Lahore, January 18: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has condemned the assassination of journalist Mukarram Khan Atif by armed men in Charsadda and expressed concern that journalists’ killings have continued across the country in spite of assurances by the authorities.
A statement issued by HRCP on Wednesday said: “It is exceedingly unfortunate that despite repeated assurances by the government to protect journalists, Mukarram Khan Atif, a senior journalist working for the electronic media was killed in Shabqadar, Charsaddah, in a blatant attack on Tuesday. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan’s acceptance of responsibility for the ghastly deed and its admission that the victim was targeted for his professional work underlines the perils journalists are increasingly being exposed to.
“That Pakistan is a perilous place for journalists is old news, since we have been labeled the most dangerous country in the world for a few years running now. At least 17 journalists and media workers were killed in Pakistan in 2011 alone. It is tragic that even before one is done counting the journalists killed in 2011, another has been targeted in 2012 already. All indications suggest that this too would be a bad year for Pakistani journalists.
“Despite the interior minister’s advice to journalists last year that they should arm themselves for their safety, the journalists and civil society still expects that the authorities would show more resolve in protecting journalists and tracking down their killers rather than washing their hands of key obligations.
“The government must realize that if it has tried anything to ensure protection for journalists that clearly has not worked. It is not entirely unreasonable for the journalists to question the government’s commitment to protect them in view of its failure to bring to justice the killers of even one of the many many journalists killed during its tenure. HRCP implores the government and also media organizations to respond with effective steps rather than mere rhetoric, and compensation for the slain journalists’ families. It must act before the next journalist is targeted.”