Where is justice for journalists?

All around the world, May 3rd is celebrated as world press freedom day to celebrate press freedom, examine press freedom around the world, defend the media from attacks on their independence, and to pay honor to journalists who have lost their lives while doing their work. Journalists usually reveal the dark realities of societies and help people attain their rights but what is there for Pakistani journalists to celebrate? Do they have freedom of speech? Should they celebrate the insecurity they face? Should they celebrate the rights they don’t have? While assisting people to attain justice, the question is, ” Where is the justice for the journalists?” Till when Journalists are going to compromise their lives to enlighten society with the truth? and When will the murderers of these media soldiers get their due punishment?

As per the report by the information ministry, at least 42 Pakistani journalists lost their lives in the last 4 years among which 15 journalists were killed in Punjab, 11 in Sindh, 13 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), and three in Balochistan. And as per Murtaza Javed Abbasi, minister of parliamentary affairs, “‘Only in one’ of the 42 cases that the accused was arrested for the murder of a journalist.” These are not some ruthless allegations this is what the Ministry of Information report revealed.

The well-known Arshad Sharif case is one of the significant examples of the gruesome killing of journalists. Even after 221 days in the grave, Arshad Sharif, a highly senior and compatible journalist who was assassinated in Kenya on October 23, 2022 (in what the Kenyan government claims were a mistaken identification case), is still seeking justice. His wife and children are still frightenedly turning to the institution for justice.

In another example, we have the Turbat-based Journalist Shaheena Shaheen Baloch’s murder case. In Turbat, Balochistan, a journalist with PTV Bolan named Shaheena Shaheen Baloch was brutally murdered in 2020. The CFWIJ has determined that Shaheena’s husband is the person who reportedly shot her twice, causing irreparable injuries. And the case has been long forgotten and currently, there is no update.

Muhammad Younis, a senior journalist for the Urdu publication Express and the president of the Shorkot Press Club reportedly died after being shot on his route to his property in the Jhang district’s Mouza Manganwala in 2022. Nonetheless, To find out who killed him, the Jhang District Police immediately initiated an investigation into the matter but that case is also unresolved.

Journalist Iftikhar Ahmed, who was associated with Express News channel and Urdu newspaper was shot dead in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Charsadda district. Police registered a first information report (FIR) of the incident against the unidentified accused on the complaint of his brother Hazrat Bilal but it went all in vain as Ahmed’s family is still looking for justice.

Other than that there is Javedullah Khan, the bureau chief for the Urdu language newspaper Ausaf, who was gunned down on February 25, 2020, in Matta, 40 kilometers northwest of Pakistan’s Swat Valley. Another Pakistani female journalist was shot and killed by her husband in 2022 in the eastern city of Lahore after he demanded she quit her job and the instances are endless.

Overall, as per the report, Islamabad appeared as the most hazardous location in Pakistan to practice journalism, with 37% of breaches (32 out of a total of 86 incidents) being documented there.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) was the third most dangerous province with 19% (16 instances), while Sindh was second-worst with 27% of the violations (23 cases).

Following these were Balochistan with roughly 2% (two instances), Punjab with 13% (11 cases), and AJK and GB each with one case.

What steps is the government taking to protect the journalists? Murder: is that what Pakistan as a state has to offer to its journalists? Is this an indication for the new generation to not risk their lives and not opt for journalism?