Pakistan: IFJ enraged by threatening claims aimed at journalists

May. 25, 2007

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is angered to receive news that a press release was issued on May 22 by Mujahir Rabita Council (MRC) that included a list of journalists described as chauvinistic, among other insults.

It is alleged that the list included Zaffar Abbas (resident editor, DAWN, Islamabad), Mazhar Abbas (AFP, Bureau chief in Karachi), Azhar Abbas (head of DAWN TV channel), Ayaz Amir (DAWN), Sajjad Mir (anchor of TV ONE), Shaheen Sehbai (head of ARYONE World), Dr Shahid Masood (anchor of GEO TV), Aneeq Ahmed (anchor of ARYONE World), Afsar Imam (Aaj tv), Zarar Khan (Bureau chief, AP, Karachi), Zahid Hussain (chief reporter, GEO) and Irfan Siddiqui (columnist, Nawa-e-Waqat).

IFJ president Christopher Warren condemns this declaration, calling it very disappointing.

The last thing Pakistani journalists need is future generations of enemies being developed, Warren said.

According to local reports, evidence of this is seen in the alleged threat of death by missiles that Nasrullah Afridi, a correspondent with Daily Mashriq and The News, received on May 22 from Mangal Bagh, a leader of an Islamic militant organisation, Lashkar-i-Islam.

Following a story by Afridi about the suspected involvement of Laskar-i-Islam in a vehicle attack where a paramilitary soldier was injured, Bagh supposedly issued the threat on his radio station, also accusing Afridi of accepting bribes from Baghs opponents and banning the sale of the Daily Mashriq in the town of Bara.

Threats such as these lead to self-censorship among journalists, which of course is the goal of the intimidators, but which is also a condition that governments who are committed to press freedom cannot allow to develop, Warren said.

Journalists need to know that they will be protected from threats or attack, and the Pakistani government needs to step up and provide that protection, Warren said.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries

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