comment: Press freedom: the statistics of shame
By Sherry Rehman
LAHORE: Despite the Musharraf regime’s repeated pronouncements on promoting democracy, human rights and press freedom, its record over the last five years in curbing independent media has been nothing but harsh and repressive. Last year itself presents a harrowing catalogue of shame.
Pakistan is now one of the few countries in the world where journalists continue to be killed for expressing their views. In 2005, two journalists were killed in cold blood when attempting to break the government blackout on the military operation in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. They were shot in broad daylight in Wana town, barely fifty yards from the army’s regional headquarters. Despite tall claims from the Governor of the province, The killers of Amir Nawab Khan , Associated Press TV , and Allah Noor Wazir, Khyber TV and the Nation, have not been arrested to this day. Khawar Mehdi became famous as the journalist who was detained in the tribal areas in the line of duty while his foreign counterpart was allowed to go.
Over just the last year, twenty-six were injured in assaults, which includes a woman reporter. Others were kidnapped and beaten, one had his house bombed, one was placed under house arrest to prevent him filing a story, while over a 100 journalists were prevented from reporting the arrival of two opposition political leaders at Lahore airport, namely Shahbaz Sharif and Asif Zardari. In the last incident, several journalists were coercively detained to prevent coverage, while two electronic media journalist were severely beaten and warned against coverage of the PPP reception for Asif Zardari in Lahore. In fact, contrary to the government’s claims, more journalists and media offices were attacked this year than the last, when 120 journalists were attacked over last year’s shameful record of 70.