‘Impossible for Pakistani media to do their duty’



Islamabad: The killing of a journalist in Balochistan and similar attacks in the past are "an assault on the right to information", said a daily, ruing that it had become impossible for media personnel to work safely.

Abdul Haq Baloch, who worked for a private television news channel in the city of Khuzdar, Balochistan, was gunned down in late September.

An editorial in the News International noted that since 2002, some 80 journalists have been killed, most of them in the 'war zones' that have crept up across the country.

Others have been gunned down in cities.

"In 2011, Pakistan was among the top ten most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. The situation only seems to worsen; this year has seen six deaths, four of them in Balochistan.

"The latest victim in this now all-too-familiar violent setting was the highly respected Abdul Haq Baloch," it said.

Haq was not the only victim of this violence. Five other journalists have been killed over two years in Khuzdar, where the press club has also been attacked.

The daily said: "Direct attacks on the media are evidently intended to prevent people's access to the news, and must be seen as an assault on the right to information, rather than the targeting of a single profession."

Though Interior Minister Rehman Malik has promised that the government will take steps to enact legislation to protect journalists, the editorial caustically noted: "...we know that government promises mean very little in real terms".

The daily said that it is the duty of the state to ensure the security of its citizens and create an environment for media persons to perform their duties with some assurance of safety.

"We hope the powers that be make an effort in changing the perception - rightly so - that Pakistan is a nation where it has become impossible for journalists to go about their professional duties safely," it added.

IANS