ISLAMABAD: The year 2007 was worst for Pakistani journalists and media in a decade, as the media remained under curbs due to government’s laws and threats. To restore the media confidence would be a big task and challenge for the government in the year 2008. Media in Pakistan remained under curbs in 2007 is it faced most awful embargoes than it came across during Ayub Khan and Zia-ul-Haq dictatorship. Seven journalists were killed besides 50 were injured, nine were kidnapped and more than 100 were arrested while performing their professional duties. Unprecedented incidents of violence and curbs on the media remained the hallmark of 2007. Besides the killing of journalists, media offices were attacked and raided by police and security agencies.
Freedom of the press came under attack as a result of the promulgation of two ordinances against the media after emergency rule was imposed in Pakistan on November 3. Two Ordinances regarding newspapers, news agencies, and Books registration Amendment Ordinance 2007 and Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) third Amendment Ordinance 2007 were promulgated. These ordinances were widely condemned and were termed as Black Laws against media.
With the imposition of emergency a media blackout followed. Private news channels were blocked and a big private news channel is still shut down.The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said that violence against journalists in 2007 has reached extreme levels with 171 confirmed deaths, seven of them in Pakistan.
The IFJ includes all journalists killed because of their work, including targeted murders, and deaths while covering violent events.
The Pakistani journalists who lost their lives while performing their professional duties include a free lance journalist Mehboob Khan, correspondent of the daily Pakistan from Bajour Agency Noor Hakeem Khan, Javed Khan of the daily Markaz, Muhammad Arif of ARYOne Karachi, correspondent of the daily Jang from Mirpurkhas Zubair Ahmed Mujahid, Khabar One’s Nisar Ahmed Soongi and Syed Kamil Mashhadi of Peshawar’s privet TV channel. In mid 2007, the agencies not only tortured the Islamabad’s South Asian News Agency (SANA) Chief Editor Shakil Ahmad Turabi but also his son Hasan Sharjil Turabi outside his school. Similarly, a journalist from Balochistan Province Riaz Maingal was kidnapped.
Police also used force and torched journalists, seven of them were badly wounded, while covering a bomb blast incident in a five star hotel in Islamabad. In November 2007, wife of Hayatullah, a deceased journalist, was also killed in a bomb blast and central president of PFUJ Huma Ali were threatened several times.Sixteen more journalists were injured in a rally in Karachi in April. More than 100 journalists were arrested in Karachi when they took a protest rally against media cubs after emergency rule was imposed in Pakistan.
Security personnel also tortured and injured more than 30 journalists while covering lawyers’ protest at Constitution Avenue, Islamabad on September 29. In the third week of December 2007, five journalists were tortured and injured by police in a students and civil society’s rally. In Iraq, which has been the deadliest country for journalists since the US invasion in 2003, at least 65 journalists and media staff have been killed during 2007.-SANA