Press Release, 8 July 2008
Lahore: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has demanded the government ensure immediate safety measures for journalists, especially those working in the tribal areas, allowing them to work without fear or intimidation from state agents or non-state actors.
Following the abduction by Taliban of two journalists on Friday, their release later the same day, their immediate detention by the Mohmand Agency political authorities and eventual release on Monday night, an HRCP statement said: The reported detention of journalists Zubair Shah and Akhtar Soomro by the political authorities in Mohmand after their release by the Taliban demonstrates the significant hurdles journalists face at the hands of extremists and government agents alike.
Instead of adding to the difficulties journalists already face in performing their duties in the tribal areas, the government must ensure the security of life to journalists from Taliban and other extremists, and prevent state agents from harassing or abducting them.
The life and security of all citizens is the government’s responsibility, more so of journalists, especially in the tribal areas because they ensure that information about those areas does get to the people. The government must surely be aware of the consequences if such information becomes unavailable.
HRCP also calls upon foreign journalists and media teams visiting Pakistan for reporting on the situation in the tribal areas not to jeopardise the safety of local journalists working for them.
In view of the volatile security situation, journalists should also consider their personal safety before agreeing to work as stingers or “fixers” in the tribal areas.
Iqbal Haider, Co-chairperson