IFJ condemns political cadre rampage against reporters in Pakistan15 Dec, 2014
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) strongly condemn the attacks against journalists by the protestors of the Pakistan Teheek-e-Insaf (PTI) in Karachi, in Sindh province in Pakistan.
Journalists of Geo News TV, AbbTakk TV, the News and the Jang, including senior journalist and PFUJ’s former secretary general Mazhar Abbas, restricted from perform their duties during a rally organized by the PTI. According to reports, hostile cadres of PTI forced the reporting crew of the Jang Group to stay on the roof of the Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG) van and disrupted their reporting with loud and abusive slogans. The PTI cadres also pelted the van with water bottles.
Female journalist Sidra Dar was also harassed shortly after PTI chief Imran Khan concluded his speech. The enraged workers pelted Geo’s DSNG van with stones and empty bottles. The PTI workers tried to drag Dar out of the van and used abusive language.
The PTI, which has launched a nationwide campaign against the government, has remained hostile to journalists, especially those from Geo News group. In September , Imran Khan met with the PFUJ leadership and Khan assured his party’s cooperation to stop the hostility and attacks against journalists. The IFJ and PFUJ has previously written to the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and opposition leaders Imran Khan and Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri calling them to account on the actions of their party followers.
The PFUJ has repeated its disappointment over the PTI leadership for failing to respect journalists on duty despite the repeated commitments. The PFUJ has also criticised PTI leadership for abusing female journalists.
In recent times, four female reporters, all working for Geo News, have been abused. Dar was abused in Karachi while Farhat Javed and Amna Amir and Maria Memon were also attacked recently in Islamabad and Faisalabad, respectively. The IFJ has also noted that state security forces have failed to adequately protect journalists despite being repeatedly attacked.
The PFUJ said: “It is unfortunate behaviour extended to journalists. It is shameful that PTI workers attacked female journalists. Abusive language was used to harass journalists during the coverage.”
The media environment in Pakistan has deteriorated throughout 2014, with Pakistan now atop theglobal list for the number of journalists killed this year.
Jane Worthington, IFJ Asia Pacific acting director, said: “The hostility of political cadres on journalists with a critical voice has become an alarming issue in recent months. The IFJ urges the political parties, especially PTI, to respect the journalists by allowing them to freely report.”