News / Asia

Pakistan World's 'Deadliest Country" for the Press in 2010

Journalists take cover as the helicopter carrying the late U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke lands in Mardan district, about 120 km  northwest of Pakistan's capital Islamabad. (FILE)
Journalists take cover as the helicopter carrying the late U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke lands in Mardan district, about 120 km northwest of Pakistan's capital Islamabad. (FILE)

Multimedia

Audio

Pakistan earned the dubious distinction in 2010 of becoming the deadliest place in the world to be a journalist. A study released this month by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) shows that eight of the 42 journalists killed in the line of duty worldwide were killed in Pakistan. Iraq, Mexico and Honduras followed behind Pakistan, where militants have stepped up suicide attacks on military and civilian targets as the U.S.-led war on terror rages on.

Nafees Takar is the chief of VOA's Pashto-language Deewa service, which broadcasts to the volatile border regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. He tells VOA's Barry Newhouse about the dangers journalists face there.

What is it about the media environment in Pakistan that has made the job so dangerous there?  Aren't the editors and reporters aware of the inherent risks of the job?

"Most of the time, when one media outlet in Pakistan uses a report, for example, on [U.S. missile] drone attacks, another media outlet will also be forcing the reporting in the region and will be expecting from their reporter a story which might be better than other one, with the soundbites of the people, and maybe the outlet will also be expecting that he or she should get some pictures of the area which has been hit by the missle attack. And that makes trouble for them in the sense that nobody can go to those areas. And if a journalist tries to go there, they are sure for inviting trouble for themselves."

And who are these journalists who are operating in these regions?  Are they from other parts of the country? Or are they locals who are hired from that area?

"These are local journalists. No one from outside the tribal districts of Pakistan, no journalists from other areas are coming for themselves to go to Swat Valley or to Waziristan or to Kurram tribal region. Most of these guys are local people. These are very dangerous areas. Language is also a barricade.  If someone comes from Karachi or Lahore, his first problem is language and he can be easily identified by locals as well as by the militants groups, and also by the security agencies. So for someone outside the local zone, it's difficult for them to do journalism in those trouble zones. But, mostly, the victims are the local journalists."

For these people who undertake this work in these dangerous places, what motivates them to go out and do this everyday?

"You know, when they work for a foreign news agency, they are good paymasters. Maybe they have also their mission, journalistic mission to expose their region, to expose the regional politics to the rest of Pakistan and the rest of the world. That also may be one reason, but money is also one attraction.  If you are working in a tribal area for a news agency which is a foreign news agency, I think they would love to work for them.  As far as the local media is concerned, I think these journalists who are based in the tribal zones, they are no more working for the newspapers. They are mostly working for the television channels, the private television channels, and that also has its own attraction. These are young guys. They want to go on adventures, but at the same time, they don't know how to manipulate and how to go ahead with the story and, in the end, they sometimes get into trouble."

With all these dangers and risks in journalism in Pakistan, are you seeing that journalists are being intimidated and are not going into the profession? Or, are there more people interested in this profession now than five years ago?

"It depends. I have seen journalists who were covering war on terror, but after two or three years, they have stopped.  And they moved to urban centers, where they are involved in political issues. And there are guys who continue, who like to cover the war on terror and some of them died. And every year we have seen that journalists in Pakistan have received threats, they are either gunned down or some of them even are forced to resign the media organization.  It depends.  But journalism is still considered the sister or brother of the show business industry and youngsters like it. Television is a big screen in Pakistan. It's charm is too much and I think television is attracting many youngters towards itself."

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid