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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid