On Wednesday, the military harassed and fired on reporters covering its operations in the Buner Valley, about 65 miles (100 kilometers) northwest of Islamabad, according to the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ). For weeks, local journalists have told CPJ, the Taliban have openly and repeatedly threatened anyone who reports critically about Taliban rule.
Until recently, most of the Taliban's military and political advances had
gone uncontested in
In the last three days, in the adjoining district of Swat, someone dropped pamphlets at TV and newspaper offices warning them not to question Taliban
rulings, according to the PFUJ. Swat came under Shariah law after the
government reached an agreement with a local cleric, Maulana Sufi Mohammad, in February in
an attempt to end attacks on the government. The PFUJ also said
letters have been sent to some media offices in the area as well as in
"The situation for journalists is getting worse from all sides," said Mohammad Riaz president of Khyber Union of Journalists. "The military has clamped down on journalists covering the operations in Buner. But we are taking the threats from the Taliban even more seriously."
Shoukat Ali, the ARY One World Television correspondent in Buner, told CPJ that at least four journalists have fled the town along with thousands of others during the government's operations against the militants. "The situation is going from bad to worse for everyone," he said.
ARY One World Television deputy director and former PFUJ secretary-general said
the union is also concerned about the well-being of more than 12 local
journalists based in Swat who want to leave the area but are afraid to leave
their families behind. He also said PFUJ has confirmed reports of an Al-Jazeera
TV crew being detained and released on Tuesday after
their car came under military fire while they were covering the operation in
Buner. Al-Jazeera's bureau chief in
Abbas and other Pakistani journalists said that a major broadcaster (the station has asked them not to identify it publicly) has pulled at least two of its correspondents off the air after Taliban complaints about their coverage. Abbas says the Taliban callers do not attempt to hide their identities when they make their threats and leave telephone numbers where they can be reached.
Pakistani journalists have been heavily targeted in
the past, and have relatively strong professional organizations to support
them, but the fighting has raised the pressure to new heights. Journalists CPJ
has spoken with say they will continue their work. While conducting a telephone
interview with CPJ from