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The death of journalism in Pakistan

Since a decade Pakistan has been affected by militancy that cost it thousands of innocent human lives. But one group of the society that bore the brunt of this on-going militancy is the journalists who are covering from the conflict zones of Tribal belt and Baluchistan. Pakistan stands number second in the international index for the most dangerous places for journalists facing harassment, kidnappings and assassinations. During the last 10 years more than hundred journalists have been killed in Pakistan, in which almost 98 per cent belonged to the tribal areas, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan province.

In the war zones, journalists walk on the razor edge. They are targeted if their reports show tilt even invariably towards either the military or the militants. In many cases State institutions have reportedly targeted journalists when they were critical in their reports of the policies of the government, especially of the intelligence agencies. In such cases not even first information reports are filed in the police stations, let alone to bring killers of journalists to justice. Recently, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists demanded the government to file cases or reopen old cases for investigation of dozens of journalists killed in FATA, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan.

According to the reports of Media Monitoring Cell of the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors and South Asia Media Commission, Eleven journalists were killed in 2013. It shows the grave situation of journalists in Pakistan.

With rampant violence and intimidation, journalists in Pakistan in general and in FATA, KPK and Baluchistan in particular are left with three choices; death, silence or moving to safer places outside Pakistan. One such case is of Kahar Zalmay, a prominent journalist and a Jefferson Fellow who had good grip on the militancy from both factual and ideological angle, had to move into hiding after receiving threats from both the intelligence agencies and Taliban. He had to leave his journalism career and family and move to safety. Same is the case with a brilliant journalist from Baluchistan and current fellow of Kennedy School of Governance at Harvard University, Malik Siraj Akbar.

If the current trend continues and journalists are kept targeted or faced harassment, nobody in his sane mind would opt to become a journalist. Journalists face social pressure from their families and friends to leave journalism. While the fact is that after investing so much time and energy, it is not that easy to leave their career and passion. And journalism is not just a career but also a moral responsibility and that is why journalists are called the ears and eyes of any civilized society. The death of journalism in Pakistan is the death of a civilized society. We indeed are failing our future generations.

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