Pakistan’s Response to Charlie Hebdo

Pakistan must do a better job ensuring the protection of journalists in 2015.

pakistan-charlie-heboOn Jan. 7, a gruesome terrorist attack on the satirical Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris resulted in the murder of 12 people including a police officer, cartoonist and journalists.

The response in pursuit of the suspects started within just a few minutes after the incident. It was condemned wholly worldwide and the newspapers declared this one of the biggest cowardly acts on journalism.

Undoubtedly, the bloodbath at Charlie Hebdo has sparked global outrage, with spontaneous and poignant rallies around the world in support of press freedom under the banner “JeSuisCharlie” (I am Charlie).

President Obama sent a message to France after Paris terror: “We grieve with you. We fight alongside you.”

The situation could not be more different in Pakistan, where murdered journalists receive little attention nationally and rarely if ever coverage internationally.

Since 1992, 56 journalists have been killed in Pakistan. Since the 9/11 terrorist attack and subsequent war on terror in Pakistan, journalism was considered a field full of fears and threats. A damning report by Amnesty International has confirmed what people involved in the media industry in Pakistan have known all alongthat journalists are simply not safe in the country.

Another 2013 report by Amnesty International found that journalists in Pakistan are under “serious threat” from state security forces, some political parties and religious militant groups. The same holds true for journalists reporting in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province.

More than 48 journalists have fallen victim to targeted killing, most of whom were Baloch. Among all the four provinces of Pakistan, Balochistan often reports more murders of journalists.

Razzaq Sarbazi, Irshad Mastoi, Ilyas Nazar, Rehmat Ullah Shaheen, Siddique Eido, Munir Ahmed, Shakir Sabzbaat, Razzaq Gul, Abdul Razzaq Baloch and many more were the unlucky journalists included in the list of slaughtered ones. All of them were from Balochistan.

Irshad-Mastoi

Irshad Mastoi

abdul razaq a journalist killed in balochistan

Abdul Razzaq Baloch

 

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On Aug. 29, 2014 a senior journalist Irshad Mastoi, trainee reporter Abdul Rasool and accountant Mohammed Younus were shot in the head and chest in Quetta. All died on the spot. In response, the Balochistan Union of Journalists President Irfan Saeed said, “There is no security for journalists in Balochistan. We lost our many friends but not a single perpetrator of the crime was booked. We are facing constant threats to our lives.”

The Balochistan government just issued a statement condemning the deadly attack on journalists. It did nothing for the journalists. There were no reports of police storming a group of killers supposedly linked to the killing of any journalist. This exposes a mass distinction between the journalists killed in France and Pakistan.

Attacks on journalists from any corner of the world must be condemned unequivocally and unambiguously. Pakistan must do a better job ensuring the protection of journalists in 2015.

Aziz Ejaz is a freelance writer, columnist and a poet. He contributes to the Balochistan Point and is subeditor at the Monthly Bolan Voice. Read other articles by Aziz.

  • Zak

    The author should have explored the reasons behind the journalists’ deaths and whether other civilians have also been killed during this period. Thousands of civilians have been killed due to Pakistan being bullied by the US into its War on Terror and we mourn and condemn everyone killed, not just journalists.