KARACHI: Media persons, civil society, human rights activists and political workers on Sunday expressed their concern over targeted attacks on the working journalist and threats to others in Pakistan, which is a violation of fundamental right of freedom of expression.
They were speaking at the last day of the two-day workshop ‘Understanding Citizenship, Development and Livelihoods in Sindh’, jointly organized by Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) at Piler centre, here.
President of Hyderabad Press Club Ishaq Mangrio, Mustafa Gurgaiz of Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF); PFUJ Secretary General Khurshid Abbasi; PILER’s Joint Director Zulfiqar Shah; senior journalist Mahesh Kumar, Jamil Memon from Tando Mohammed Khan and others spoke on the occasion.
Summing up the discussion during the concluding session President of Hyderabad Press Club Ishaq Mangrio said reporters in the rural areas and small towns are also facing challenges in the recent time, when the incidents of political murders and extra judicial killings are on the rise.
He said the media and even politicians cannot solve the puzzle of mysterious murders of high profile personalities including Benazir Bhutto, Murtaza Bhutto, Bashir Khan Qureshi and the government authorities are reluctant to reveal the reports of the political murders in the recent times.
“We, specifically journalists, should think that how political parties, which are struggling for changing the political systems, are facing threats while receiving dead bodies of their activists,” said Ishaq Mangrio, who is also renowned Sindhi folklore writer.
He said in Sindh the even cruel acts are done like burning of bodies of the political workers and then they are thrown away, which the political parties allege that these are extra judicial killings of their workers by the state actors.
Tracing history Mr. Mangrio gave examples of high profile murders by state and non-state actors in Pakistan including execution of Pir Sahib Pagara, Communist leader Hassan Nasir, PPP founding chairman Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto his two sons and daughter Shaheed Benazir Bhutto and said there is no inquiry report of these incidents has been declared to understand the causes, despite the fact these all incidents were important in our history.
He also took names of Balochistan leader Nouroz Khan, who was hanged with his sons in Sukkur central Jail, Akbar Bugti who was killed by Frontier Corpse personnel and nobody could see his face during his funeral. Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) leaders Bashir Khan, his brother and a large number of JSMM activists either have been killed extra judicially, violating the Constitution and UN Charter of Human Rights to bring them to courts if they were involved in any cases.
Similarly, we can read in newspaper that how political activists of Balochistan and Sindh are being arrested, killed and their bodies are being thrown, burnt or buried in mysterious graveyards.
Mangrio said in fact reporters have to cover such types of issues. Even media houses themselves are reluctant to take decisions to include such news of the political murders and activities in their bulletins or not.
Ms. Afia Salam, a senior environment journalist and trainer linked the lack of awareness to the social problems, which the people face in rural areas.
“We can see that how media is hungry of news and wants quick response about any incident and the situation from the reporters. This needs consciousness of reporters to cover the incident effectively and response to their desks as per their expectations, keeping in mind the ethics and values.”
She said covering incidents is not only the task, but keeping in mind ethics is something, which may show the understanding about the role of active citizens in the society.
In fact the development is the need of hour to address the issues facing due to population increase, the planners should design the projects to avoid loss to ecology and the community rights.
She also covered gender issues, domestic violence, conflicts and asked media persons to keep their eye over these issues.
Journalists hailing from different remote areas and towns said there is no concept of development; there is corruption; there is political nepotism: there is no education, no health cover, no water and drainage, no environment, no functioning women security institutions.
Mustafa Gurgaiz, Manager, Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) shared the achievements of PFF’s struggles for the rights of fishermen communities. He said mega development projects are being designed without taking the peoples in confidence, as community people pay more price of this kind of negligence.
PILER Joint Director Zulfiqar Shah said this is time to give more time to design effective strategy instead of discussing merely issues and difficulties. We have to change our mindset and look ahead effectively as responsible and active citizens.
The government institutions are maintaining only law and order situation. He also shared the approach of the societies, saying they usually follow the old cultures while taking decisions about the development mechanism.
Journalists cover issues in the interest of the common people, despite lack of resources and threats. Some of the participant media persons also gave examples and how they faced threats from feudal lords.