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In a climate of impunity, more danger ahead for journalists

(CPJ/IFEX) - 17 April 2012 - The following is a CPJ Blog post:

By Mazhar Abbas, CPJ Guest Blogger

Pakistani journalists are under threat, and the public is paying the price. The most recent report from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan includes a detailed chapter on freedom of expression, which ties growing suppression to rising incidence of violence and threats against news media. Not coincidentally, Pakistan sits near the top of CPJ's Impunity Index and other global lists of most dangerous countries for reporters.

Threats to journalists in Pakistan are no longer confined to the border, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or Baluchistan. Reporters working in urban centers such as Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta, Karachi, and Lahore regularly receive threats. They must be taken seriously, given that so many Pakistani journalists have died with hardly any of their deaths being investigated.

And we are seeing a new trend: Journalists working for international news agencies have become targets of threats. The pressure on them has mounted as militant groups grow more sophisticated in their approach to media. Instead of worrying only about reports in the vernacular press, these militants closely monitor international media as well. They know full well which Pakistanis are responsible for unfavorable coverage in wire services, influential foreign newspapers, magazines, and broadcasters. Local journalists coming under threat is nothing new in Pakistan, but for the first time we are starting to see journalists leaving their jobs at international media outlets due to fears for their safety.

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MORE INFORMATION: Pakistan's response to UNESCO shows true colors (CPJ, 17 April 2012)

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