Pakistani journalists protest the killing of Mukarram Khan Atif in Peshawar. (AP/Mohammad Sajjad)

Pakistan's Abbas: Journalists hostage to 'power of gun'

By Bob Dietz/CPJ Asia Program Coordinator on February 7, 2012 1:42 PM ET

CPJ award winner Mazhar Abbas penned a strong Sunday op-ed piece, "Death is the only news--Challenges of working in conflict zones," for The News. It's about conditions for journalists working in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Baluchistan. As Abbas says, "The killing of one journalist is a message for another." He goes on to describe the situation in FATA:

The murder of tribal journalist Nasrullah Afridi a few months back [May 10, 2011] was perhaps the warning for Mohammad Khan Aatif [January 17, 2012], a stringer for Voice of America's Pashto service. Journalists in FATA are now waiting for the next target, as everyone seems to be hostage to "gun power" whether from the state or non-state elements, making it world's most dangerous area for reporting.

For more background reading on FATA: I did a five-part series, "Frontier War," published in October 2009. In his October 2011 piece, "Baluchistan's press under siege," Malik Siraj Akbar described conditions in one of Pakistan's most under-reported hot spots.