Monitoring and Analyzing Threats and Attacks against Media in Pakistan:
April 2017 Report by Freedom Network
In March 2017, a total of eight cases of serious violations against media and its practitioners were documented by the Pakistan Press Clubs Safety Hubs Network. These included five journalists attacked physically and injured, one journalist detained and one journalist receiving verbal threats. Among these seven violations, five occurred in Sindh province and once each in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab.
ASSAULT & INJURY: In April 2017, six journalists were assaulted and injured.
On April 17, 2017, a group of eight demonstrators protesting outside the Sukkur Press Club in Sukkur in Sindh province suddenly entered the press club and attacked journalists and damaged property. In the ensuing melee, five journalists – three cameramen and two reporters – sustained injuries that required medical attention. These included Nasir Jafry, cameraman for Geo TV, Faisal Arain, cameraman for newspaper Aman, Shah Wali, cameraman for Din News TV, Javed Memon, the resident editor of newspaper Awami Awaz and Jahanzaib Siyar of Abtak TV. Police later arrested two suspected attackers who were later released on the intervention of a ruling party senator. The other six suspects remain at large. Police has registered a case. In a separate case on April 23, 2017, Saeed Ehsan, reporter for C42 TV in Lahore was attacked and injured by security personnel for filming footage at the city’s airport despite having permission from the airport’s administration.
DETAINED: On April 23 Saeed Ehsan, reporter for C42 TV, was attacked, beaten and locked up at the Lahore Airport in the Punjab provincial capital. Ehsan was on duty recording footage on his mobile when a woman objected and asked him to delete her images. On his refusal she called someone and a while later some men in plainclothes arrived and whisked him away, beat him and locked him up. He was released 24 hours later. It transpired that the woman was the daughter of a former military official. The airport administration has officially allowed two Lahore-based TV channels to record images of passengers for the purposes of journalism.
THREAT: On April 15, 2017, Shahzaman Mehsud, reporter for newspaper Ummat in South Waziristan, received a threat though an Afghanistan-registered telephone. The unidentified caller warned him to desist from reporting or be ready to face consequences.
Threats, Attacks & Harassment against Media Institutions
In April 2017, one case of a physical attack on a media establishment – the Sukkur Press Club – was documented by the Press Clubs Safety Hubs Network. A group of persons entered the press club on April 17, 2017 by force, ransacked the office and injured five journalists. There was no formal ban or enforced censorship on a media house reported this month. No information was available on any media house being served with a legal notice from either official quarters or from private parties.
Threats, Attacks & Harassment against Various Types of Media
In April 2017, a total of three categories of attacks and threats against a total of seven practitioners of various types of media were documented by the Press Clubs Safety Hubs Network and the media. These included four cases of violations against television media and three against print media.
Of the four cases against television media practitioners, four related to assault and injury and one of illegal detention. Of the three cases against print media practitioners two related to assault and injury and one related to a verbal threat.
Threat Actors Attacking and Harassing Journalists and Media
During April 2017, the various reported or suspected threat actors attacking, threatening or harming media practitioners included unidentified person suspected of political affiliation, security personnel and militants.
The information collected here is based on reporting by victims or their families and does not necessarily imply it is verified, unless specified. The information filed here is in good faith and aimed at analyzing trends for the sole purpose of informing strategies to reduce threats against media and its practitioners.
Advocacy on Journalists’ Safety by Press Clubs Safety Hubs Network
In April 2017, the Pakistan Press Clubs Safety Hubs Network spent a busy month. Some of the key advocacy activities on journalists’ safety in this period included the following:
National Press Club, Islamabad, Safety Hub
- Safety Hub Manager conducted training of journalists at press clubs in Muzaffarabad and Mirpur in Azad Kashmir on physical and digital security. About 40 journalists participated in both trainings.
- Coordinated, in collaboration with National Press Club, a memorial/award ceremony for martyred journalists. Journalist Hamid Mir, Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani and State Minister for Information Maryam Aurangzeb participated.
- Facilitated a consultation on upcoming Journalists Protection & Welfare Bill. In this seminar organized by National Press Club and Pakistan federal Union of Journalists, it was resolved that PFUJ will submit its recommendations /feedback on the Bill by April 30 to the government.
- Followed up with Jang reporter Mazhar Barlas who reported that his car was hit by police officials. The safety hub helped mediate the case and the police apologized to Barlas.
Dera Ismail Khan Press Club Safety Hub
- Safety Hub Manager met three media managers – ATV reporter Zafar Awan, daily Jehan e Pakistan bureau chief and Waqt TV reporter Usman Awan and PTV News bureau coordinator Yaseen Qureshi – and handed them UN Plan of Action and Media House Safety Protocols documents for display on premises and action by their respective establishments.
- Met Gomal University Department of Mass Communication Head Waseem Sheikh to discuss the arrangements for the World Press Freedom Day on May 3 and list of participants and speakers.
Karachi Press Club Safety Hub
- Safety Hub Manager conducted a training on physical and digital safety at the Thatta Press Club on April 11 where 15 journalists participated.
- Facilitated a consultation on Provincial Media Safety Bill in collaboration with Freedom Network and IRADA in Karachi. Parliamentarians, lawyers, journalists and civil society took part in the meeting. The parliamentarians in attendance pledged to support the Bill in the assembly.
- Interviewed Dr Jabbar Khattak of Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors and editor of daily Awami Awaz on the role of editors in ensuring journalist’s protection and safety mechanisms that media houses should have in place to protect journalists.
Quetta Press Club Safety Hub
- Safety Hub Manager conducted a physical and digital safety training for journalists of Qila Saifullah Press Club. Eight Journalists participated.
- Met Inspector General Police Balochistan Razaq Cheema in Quetta along with a delegation of Quetta Press Club and Balochistan Union of Journalists to discuss the problems facing Chaman-based photographer Matiullah Achakzai. Upon necessary action by the IG office, an FIR has been registered against the accused harassing his family.
- Organized a consultation on Provincial Media Safety Bill in collaboration with Freedom Network and IRADA in Quetta on April 26. Parliamentarians, lawyers, journalists and civil society took part in the meeting. The parliamentarians in attendance pledged to support the Bill in the assembly.
Peshawar Press Club Safety Hub
- Safety Hub Manager met daily The Nation Peshawar bureau chief Said Alam Khan and Dunya News Peshawar Bureau Chief Saifullah Gul to discuss issued related to journalists’ safety and safety protocols that media houses can adopt and enforce.
- Facilitated a consultation on Provincial Media Safety Bill in collaboration with Freedom Network and IRADA in Peshawar. Parliamentarians, lawyers, journalists and civil society took part in the meeting. The parliamentarians in attendance pledged to support the Bill in the assembly.
Lahore Press Club Safety Hub
- Safety Hub Manager met Rais Ansari, bureau chief of Geo TV in Lahore and Kazim Khan, the managing director of Times Media Group and handed over documents on safety protocols and UN Plan of Action on Safety of Journalists.
- Facilitated a consultation on Provincial Media Safety Bill in collaboration with Freedom Network and IRADA in Lahore. Parliamentarians, lawyers, journalists and civil society took part in the meeting. The parliamentarians in attendance pledged to support the Bill in the assembly.