Attack on Journalists Exposes Incompetent Pakistani Security

The latest terror attacks against senior journalists Raza Rumi and Hamid Mir exposes Pakistan’s incompetent security apparatus.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Journalism has had a turbulent time in Pakistan. After the end of the country’s dictatorship in the 2008, private media found itself inundated by soaring numbers of young people choosing this profession. The demand opened a market for various private media organizations, generally regarded as being of substandard and unethical.

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Credit: pakworkers.com

Most Pakistani journalists being unaware about the ethics face risks every day as they report many times by bashing norms. However many receive threats because of their brave reporting on certain issues such as abducted and missing persons, the military role and Talibanization.

These actions irritate too many institutions and persons from different groups who in turn violate international standards by suppressing independent media and targeting journalists.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has ranked Pakistan among the deadliest places in the world for journalists: 10th place in 2012 and 8th in 2013, with 23 murders that occurred over the past decade, not a single suspect prosecuted.

But the number of deaths alone fails to explain either the real progress or the true challenges of media development in the country.

Just in the last few weeks, two attempts were made on senior Pakistani journalists. The first attack targeted the progressive and secular Raza Rumi of the Express Tribune who narrowly escaped death but whose driver unfortunately succumbed to his wounds.

The second attack targeted Hamid Mir, who faced threats from the Taliban and other terror groups. Surprisingly, Mir came under attack in an area totally controlled by the military.

The latest terror attack on senior journalist Hamid Mir exposes the incompetent security apparatus where just a few hours after the former military ruler Pervez Musharraf arrived amid tight security with police all around the roads.

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Amir Mir, the younger brother of Hamid Mir, said candidly during a TV interview that his brother was under Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) threat since the days of General Ahmad Shuja Pasha. Mir previously said that if he is attacked, the ISI “and its chief Lt General Zaheerul Islam will be responsible.”

Geo News, the media organization for which Mir works, reported that he had also sent a recorded video to the Committee to Protect Journalists implicating the ISI in any attempt on his life. Mir had told that some elements of ISI harbor extreme hostility against him for his opinions of the Pakistani province of Balochistan.

Saturday’s incident exposed the poor performance of the police, and also compelled the media to come out of the box and defend the country’s top intelligence agency. Military spokesmen condemned the attack on Hamid Mir, and said an independent inquiry must be carried out to find out facts behind the attack.

“However raising allegations against the ISI or the head of ISI without any basis is highly regrettable and misleading,” a military spokesperson added in a statement to media.

Immediately after the attack on Mir, top Islamabad journalists were quick to admit their vulnerability and disarray to deter such attacks on media personalities.

Efforts should be made to protect journalists and social media activists throughout Pakistan and in Balochistan where every day people wake up to find dead bodies, who have purportedly been killed by state instruments of terror like the infamous intelligence agency ISI.

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Kiyya Qadir Baloch is a freelance Baloch journalist associated with the Daily Times based in Islamabad. He reports on foreign affairs, Baloch insurgency, militancy and sectarian violence in Balochistan. Read other articles by Kiyya.