News / Asia

Press Group: Pakistan Remains Deadly for Journalists

Pakistani journalists demonstate over threats against press in Quetta, Pakistan, April 17, 2012Pakistani journalists demonstate over threats against press in Quetta, Pakistan, April 17, 2012
Pakistani journalists demonstate over threats against press in Quetta, Pakistan, April 17, 2012
Pakistani journalists demonstate over threats against press in Quetta, Pakistan, April 17, 2012
Ayaz Gul
An international watchdog group says Pakistan, where around 100 journalists are said to have been killed in the line of duty during the past 12 years, remains one of the world's most dangerous countries for the press. In the latest World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders, Pakistan dropped eight places, to 158th out of 179 countries.

The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders says that despite having a diverse and lively media, Pakistan remains one of the world's most dangerous countries for journalists. It added that "the absence of any government policy to protect media workers" continued to hamper the ability of journalists to work freely in Pakistan.
2013 World Press Freedom Index

Most Free
  1. Finland
  2. Netherlands
  3. Norway
  4. Luxembourg
  5. Andorra

Least Free
  1. Eritrea
  2. North Korea
  3. Turkmenistan
  4. Syria
  5. Somalia
Critics say the risks to the lives of journalists in Pakistan have increased because the rapid expansion of local media over the past decade, particularly private television channels, has coincided with the rise of terrorism and extremism in the country. Moreover, a low-level separatist insurgency in Baluchistan, along with sectarian, ethnic and politically-motivated attacks in the southwestern province, have also led to the killings of local journalists.
Officials acknowledge more needs to be done to provide a safe working environment for journalists. But they point out that Taliban and other insurgents have also killed thousands of security forces.  
Deputy Information Minister Samsam Bukhari detailed the steps the Pakistani government is taking to address the concerns of journalists.
"We are coming up with [a] few programs like the journalists' training in the war-trodden areas, journalists covering the areas with risk. And we are also coming up with a fund for their families -- God forbid, if something happens. So, yes, Pakistan is not a friendly environment [for journalists] but not the whole of Pakistan, just the areas where the war on terror is going on," Bukhari said.
In the first month of 2013, Pakistan has already witnessed the deaths of three media workers. The victims had arrived at the scene of a low-intensity bomb blast in the city of Quetta minutes before another powerful bomb went off. The double bombings killed more than 80 people, mostly Shi'ite Muslims.
It is widely acknowledged that there is a lack of information and training for journalists in Pakistan before they are sent to conflict zones or to cover incidents like bomb explosions.
"The media houses don’t have security policies they do not prioritize the security of journalists. There are no, for instance, safety protocols or guidelines on security that are mandatory for journalists," said Adnan Rehmat, the executive director of Intermedia, a Pakistani media watchdog.
Non-governmental local and foreign organizations have recently stepped up security training programs for Pakistani journalists working in the violence-hit districts.
Michael Mcauliffe is the resident journalism adviser in Pakistan with Internews, an international non-governmental organization working to empower local media worldwide.  
"What we want to accomplish is trying to make sure journalists understand they are responsible for their safety, that when they are in the field they have to have to exercise the control over how close they are going to be. There are ways to cover stories without always placing yourself at such a significant degree of risk," McAuliffe said.
Observers like Adnan Rehmat of Intermedia say that the failure to prosecute suspects involved in deadly attacks on journalists in Pakistan is also encouraging the violence.  He says that if attacks on journalists are not properly investigated and the killers are not prosecuted and punished, then, "impunity will prevail in Pakistan in the foreseeable future".

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syriai
November 26, 2015 5:21 AM
Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs