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Over 40 percent increase in attacks on journalists in Pakistan

There has been an over 40 percent increase in attacks and violations against the media including journalists in 2020-21in Pakistan compared to the year-ago period, according to a document published by a media watchdog body, The News reported

Apr 30, 2021
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Journalists in Pakistan (File)

There has been an over 40 percent increase in attacks and violations against the media including journalists in 2020-21in Pakistan compared to the year-ago period, according to a document published by a media watchdog body, The News reported.

Freedom Network’s annual state of Pakistan Press Freedom 2021 report recorded 148 cases – one every third day - of attacks and violations against the media and its practitioners, including journalists, between May 2020 and April 2021.

‘This is an over 40 percent increase from the 91 cases of violations documented in the preceding year (May 2019-April 2020),” the watchdog said in the report.

Iqbal Khattak, Executive Director of Freedom Network, said the spike in the attacks on the media and its practitioners in Pakistan points to a collective failure of the government to honor commitment of upholding peoples’ right to speak in a fear-free environment.

“Laws must protect journalists instead of silencing them,”  Khattak said.

According to the report, Islamabad emerged as the riskiest and most dangerous place for journalists in the period under review with 34 percent of the violations (51 out of total 148 cases) recorded in the federal capital.

The report details various means like coercive censorship, including murders, legal cases, assaults, abductions, detentions and threats employed against the media to silence it.

The data shows that no place in all the four provinces or federal capital Islamabad is safe – attacks against journalists are taking place everywhere and that shockingly the state and its functionaries have emerged as the principal threat actor wielding the biggest stick to browbeat the media into submission and growing silence, The News said, quoting the report.

While six journalists were killed, murder attempts were made on seven other members of the fourth estate, beside five kidnappings, 25 arrests or detentions, 15 assaults and 27 legal cases registered against journalists.

The report said the journalists working in television medium faced the maximum number of attacks, 79. There were 58 attacks on journalists working for the print media, while 11 online journalists were also targeted.

The report said in 46 percent of the cases, mediapersons and their families blamed the state for the attacks.

(SAM)

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