REGIONS:

SUBSCRIBE:

Sign up for weekly updates

Pakistan's Express News under attack again as journalist threatened, bureau chief's home targeted

Pakistani journalists hold placards and pictures of Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus, who was killed April 4, 2014 in Afghanistan, during a demonstration to condemn attacks against journalists in Islamabad, 7 April 2014
Pakistani journalists hold placards and pictures of Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus, who was killed April 4, 2014 in Afghanistan, during a demonstration to condemn attacks against journalists in Islamabad, 7 April 2014

REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood

Imtiaz Alam, a journalist and television anchor for Express News, received death threats on the night of April 3, 2014 in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province. He is also the editor of the quarterly South Asian Journal and secretary general of the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA). Thus far no one has claimed responsibility for the threats.

Alam was on his way home along with his driver when his driver received a call from an unknown number during which the caller issued serious death threats against Alam and his family. Alam's name was also on the top of a militants' hit list, which was issued by the Punjab government to all media houses. Journalist Raza Rumi's name was the second on the list; he survived a murder attempt on March 28.

The militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi was probably behind the threats, Alam speculated.

Condemning the attack, journalists and representatives of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE), the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) expressed deep concern over the death threats and said that intolerance for diverse points of view had a direct bearing on media freedom and quality journalism. They said that edicts and threats continue to be hurled at the media and media persons, among them Alam.

In a statement, representatives of media organisations said, "The targeted attacks and death threats are meant to create fear among the democratic intelligentsia and media persons. It is more disturbing that the state
is failing in its responsibility to protect citizens and its writ."

"We urge the media associations to take joint stand on acts of violation of and threats to media rights and freedom of expression. Attack on one should be taken as an attack on all. It's time that the state and the government of Pakistan fulfilled their responsibility to their citizens protecting their fundamental rights of freedom of information and freedom of expression guaranteed in the constitution."

Second attack on bureau chief's house

The house of Jamshed Baghwan, Bureau Chief of Express News, was attacked once again in the early morning of April 6, 2014 at around 6:25am. The home is located in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhuwa province.

On March 19, an improvised explosive device (IED) with two kilograms of explosives was found in front of his house and was subsequently defused by the Bomb Disposal team.

Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the earlier incident while no one has yet claimed the responsibility for the second attack. This is the sixth attack on the same media group in 2013-14.

Two masked men riding on a motorcycle threw a hand grenade at the main gate of the journalist's house which went off with a loud bang damaging the main gate. The journalist and his family members were not hurt in the April 6 attack.

PFUJ General Secretary Amin Yousuf, Khyber Union of Journalists (KhUJ) President Nisar Mahmood, Peshawar Press Club (PPC) and Crimes and Terrorism Journalists Forum President Javed Aziz Khan condemned the attack on Baghwan and other journalists across the country. They demanded the federal and provincial governments properly probe the threats and attacks and provide security to media persons.

PFUJ and KhUJ staged a protest demonstration on April 7 at 1 pm outside the Peshawar Press Club.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
What other IFEX members are saying

Latest Tweet:

Regional journalists call for job safety for #PapuaNewGuinea media - IFEX https://t.co/qRdDxh5bSZ @islandfreedoms @withMEAA @PACNEWS1