Govt urged to ensure security of journalists in FATA
ISLAMABAD: The government should take appropriate measures to ensure the security of journalists, particularly in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to make the slogan of freedom of expression true.
Media persons in FATA are facing threat to their lives and honour and even their family members are not safe from militants as well as security forces. This was the crux of the seminar on ‘Role of Media in Peace and Development in FATA; Issues and Challenges’, organised by FATA Research Centre (FRC) on Thursday.
FRC President Dr Ashraf Ali presided over the seminar while former information minister Dr Anisazeb Tahirkheli, TV Anchor Saleem Safi, Tribal Union of Journalists President Safdar Hayat Dawar, renowned journalists, including Haroon Rasheed, Sailab Mehsud, Anwarullah Khan, Tahir Khan and Sami Yusufzai addressed the seminar. FRC Directors Saifullah Mehsud and Mansur Khan Mehsud also attended the seminar besides journalists and students.
The participants discussed the challenges faced by FATA journalists. They were of the view that journalists in FATA were facing multi-faceted challenges, like no access to information, pressure from local administration, security forces and militants. They face life threats in case a story annoys any of the stakeholders.
They maintained that at present Pakistan has separate strategy for different areas, which resulted in confusion. This has dented the country’s socio-economic structure and it is difficult to devise a unanimous strategy under these circumstances.
This situation has created a war economy which is encouraging terrorism and extremism in the country. The stakeholders in this war game are not ready to compromise their interests and are fanning the situation by one or the other way, the speakers opined.
At present political leadership has delegated all its powers to military leadership particularly in FATA, which helped the military establishment to manipulate the situation and impose a media black-out.
Dr Ashraf Ali said that media was facing tough time in FATA and so far more than 12 journalists had been killed in this war-ravaged area. “It is unfortunate that responsibility for murder of journalists in FATA was not fixed despite commissioning of dozens of reports and inquiries, and no one was taken to task,” he said. Tribal journalists are working in a hostile situation without any communication facilities to feed their organisations, he said, adding that government should ensure the safety of journalists and should initiate programmes to impart proper training to journalists.
Former information minister Anisazeb Tahirkheli said that Pakistani media has failed to bridge the communication gap between FATA and rest of the world and there is lot of confusion as to what is actually going on in FATA. She said that media must work hard to bring peace and stability in tribal areas, which will open vistas for development and prosperity. Army is at the helm of affairs in FATA and is not ready to share power with civilian government, while under such circumstances it is difficult for media to work as it is not being allowed to be critical of wrongdoings, she lamented.
Saleem Safi was of the view that media has two fold responsibility. First, to inform Pakistani people as well as the rest of the world about FATA situation, and second, to connect people of FATA with rest of the world. But, he added, media has failed in both and people across the globe and even in Pakistan are ignorant about FATA situation and with the passage of time this communication gap is widening, which is disastrous.