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Rural Media Network Pakistan

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News of media events in Pakistan

Indian High Commission refuses visa to RMNP President

Ahmedpur East (Rural Pakistan): The Indian High Commission in Islamabad has refused to grant a visa to the President of the Rural Media Network Pakistan and Chief Editor/Publisher of the Daily Nawa-I-AhmedpurSharqia, Mr Ehsan Ahmed Sehar.

The visa was applied for to attend the World Newspapers Congress and World Editors Forum in Hyderabad, India from 30th November to 3rd December 2009.

No reason was given for refusing the visa.

Ehsan Ahmed Sehar is the only editor from Pakistan sponsored by the WEF to attended this year's Congress and the previous Congress in 2007 in Capetown.

The Indian Newspapers Society (INS) supported the President's visa application.

Source. RMNP 20 November 2009

NOC holding up protective equipment for journalists

ISLAMABAD: A delay in a no-objection certificate  to be issued by the
Interior Ministry for the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists
(RIUJ) and the National Press Club (NPC)  is in turn holding up the
release of protective equipment donated by the Doha Media Centre for
journalists in Pakistani “war zones”.

Sources said the equipment  being kept by the Customs Department 
would be released to the RIUJ and the NPC only if they produced an NOC
issued by the Interior Ministry.

They said the RIUJ and Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ)
had applied for an NOC with the Press Information Department’s (PID)
consent, granted on June 17, 2009. The sources said the NOC request
was under the ministry’s consideration, but no decision had been made
so far.

Source Daily Times/PFUJ

Afghan journalist’s murder in Pakistan must not go unpunished

Afghan journalist Janullah Hashimzada’s murder on 24 August in Jamrud, in northwestern Pakistan, has sown terror and disarray. His mourning colleagues fear for their ability to keep working as journalists, his widow and three children have been abandoned, and no proper investigation has been carried out. Reporters Without Borders has provided emergency financial aid so that they can continue attending school. The press freedom organisation requests Pakistani and international media and journalists’ organisations to help the family.

Reporters Without Borders has interviewed some of the journalists who worked with Hashimzada, who was a stringer for various Afghan, Pakistani and international media:
http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xaiqr1_about-the-murder-of-aghan-journalis_news

They say they fear that “the truth will never be known” and they suspect his murder was organised by Afghan Taliban who had been threatening him for a long time.

In his reporting for the Afghan TV station Shamshad and the Pashto newspapers Vahdat and Sahar, Hashimzada covered sensitive subjects such as the war against terrorism and relations between Afghans and Pakistanis in the border region.

His death, the 27th murder of a journalist in Pakistan since 2001, jeopardises the work of gathering information in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas. Rahimullah Yousafzai of News International stressed its dramatic consequences. “This event will obviously have an impact on the quality of journalistic work. It will scare everyone who writes about the war against terror and about those who are active in this part of Pakistan.”

Yousafzai added: “Journalists have had to resign and leave the places where they live. Those who are continuing their activities in these areas are subject to many constraints. A kind of self-censorship is taking place. Journalists are taking a lot more precautions when they write their articles.”

Hashimzada knew he was under threat and was very concerned for his family’s safety. He has left a widow and three children, or whom the oldest is only 10.

See the article in Persian: http://www.rsf-persan.org/article16810.html

Doctor roughs up The News correspondent

BAHAWALPUR: The orthopaedic ward doctors of the Bahawal Victoria
Hospital (BVH) attacked a Geo TV cameraman after breaking his camera
and indulged in a fist fight with The News and Geo News correspondents
on Wednesday after the media team went to the hospital to cover the
protest of the heirs of a patient Amir Hussain Shah. The relatives of
the deceased were protesting against the doctors’ negligence, which
resulted in the patient’s death.

As the The News and Geo News correspondents reached the ward, Dr
Rashed warned them of dire consequences. When the team started
covering the protest, Dr Rashed attacked the cameramen, broke their
cameras and started beating them, besides the Geo news reporter and
The News Correspondent Ameen Abbasi. Earlier, the same doctor had
attacked a private TV channel cameraman when he went there to cover
the protest.

The News and Geo News team reported the matter to the BVH Medical
Superintendent Dr Malik Altaf and lodged a written complaint with the
Cantt police station. The other mediamen have also approached
police.

Rural Media Network Pakistan(RMNP) has condemned this
incident and demanded of Punjab Government for the immediate suspension
of Dr Rashed.

Source: RMNP

CPNE expresses solidarity with Arif Nizami

RAWALPINDI: The Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE) has
expressed its grief and anxiety over the removal of noted journalist
Arif Nizami from Nawa-e-Waqt group. At an informal session, the CPNE
members expressed solidarity with Arif Nizami, describing his removal
as unilateral and humiliating. They assured Arif of their cooperation.

The meeting was chaired by Zahid Malik. CPNE general secretary
Khushnood Ali Khan, Mujibur Rahman Shami, Zia Shahid, Imtenan Shahid,
Dr Jabbar Khatak, Qazi Asad Abid, Siddique Baloch, Syed Fasih Iqbal,
Rehmat Ali Razi, Javed Mehr Shamsi, Mehtab Khan, Sardar Khan Niazi,
Barrister Ammar Khushnood, Sharif Farooq, Mustansar Javed, Syed Mumtaz
Ahmed, Mushatq Ahmed Qureshi, Ghulam Akbar, Syed Sajjad Bukhari, Hamid
Abedi, Altaf Hasan Qureshi, Wasim Ahmed, and Qudsia Khan.

Source: The News 9/14/2009

Waqt TV tear thrashed for exposing hoarders

MURREE: Two flour hoarders Thursday thrashed “Waqt News” team,
harassed its senior producer Naseer Abbasi and damaged his camera in
the jurisdiction of Trait Police Post.

According to details, alleged flour hoarders Jamil Khan and Fazlur
Rehman manhandled he “Waqt TV” team when it was recording on its
camera huge quantity of flour stored in the said hoarders’godown.

Naseer Abbasi, Senior Producer of “Waqt TV” along with his team upon
complaints that huge quantity of flour was stored in their godown,
reached there and started recording the proofs on his camera.

Upon this both hoarders lost their temper and started thrashing Waqt
team and threatened them of dire consequences. Naseer Abbasi said that
both Jamil Khan and Fazlur Rehman indulged in flour hoarding for last
many days and stored huge quantity of flour on subsidised rate in
their godowns.

Later, they were to smuggle the flour to NWFP areas as they did in
past. Senior producer has appealed to the authorities concerned to
take stern action against the abovementioned accused.

Source: The Nation

PML-N leader ‘abuses’ journalists

LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Zaeem Qadri “abused”
reporters during a press conference in Lahore, a private TV channel
reported on Wednesday.

According to the channel, journalists had gathered to cover a press
conference by Qadri and Punjab Prisons Minister Chaudhry Abdul
Ghafoor. During the question-answer session, Qadri was caught on tape
using an expletive while referring to journalists as he whispered in
Ghafoor’s ear, the channel added. Ghafoor nodded in affirmation to the
comment, it added.

Journalists have protested against the PML-N leaders’ attitude. The
Punjab Union of Journalists has announced to boycott the party’s
coverage until the leaders apologise.

Source: Daily Times

Tarja Virtanen takes charge as Director Unesco Islamabad

Islamabad: Ms Tarja Virtanen has taken over the charge of Unesco office Islamabad as Director/Representative on September 1, 2009. Earlier she was working as head of Unesco office in Almaty, Kazakhstan in which Kyrgyzstan, Tajikstan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan were included as cluster countries. Before joining as head of Unesco office Almaty, Ms Tarja Vitanen served as regional communication adviser Unesco for Asia & Pacific for many years in New Delhi, India. She is matchless media expert who executed a large number of IPDC project in the different parts of Asia. Journalists community has hailed her appointment in Pakistan and wished for her success.

Source: RMNP

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

4 September 2009

PAKISTAN: A senior female broadcaster is pressured to keep quiet about being sexually harassed at a major TV news station

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has learned that a senior anchorperson at Dunya TV News is being pressured to keep silent about being sexually harassed by the company's managing director. After the news director and chief executive officer (CEO) of the company were informed the journalist started to experience serious professional setbacks, and though internal investigation committees were set up (after her resignation), these appear to have been intentionally delayed. There are concerns that the power of the media house explains the lack of action by civil and political groups, including the National Press Club, in the case so far. The victim currently faces two defamation suits. The case is timely, since a proposal to increase the punishment for sexual harassment in the workplace is pending in Parliament.

CASE DETAILS:

Ms. Maheen Usmani was a senior anchorperson at Dunya TV News, a private television channel in Islamabad. On 11 May 2009 she received two late-night calls from the channel's managing director, Mr. Yusuf Baig Mirza. He allegedly asked Ms. Usmani to confirm her cell number and made inappropriate comments on her appearance, before offering her certain favours and reimbursements if she were to keep in touch with him on his personal number. According to the victim's later letter to the Director of Human Resources of Dunya News after the event, Mirza's speech was 'suggestive' and loaded with innuendoes.

Usmani reported the matter to the Director of News (DN), who assured her that it would not happen again and guaranteed an apology from Mirza. However the DN left his job soon afterward and this never happened. The CEO, Mr. Mian Amer Mahmood (former Nazim or Mayor of Lahore city) was also told about the incident, yet did nothing. Instead Usmani found herself increasingly marginalised in the studio; Mirza withheld a special report she prepared, removed her from her lead production role in a popular weekly program and intervened to prevent the program's broadcast on several occasions.

Usmani tendered her resignation on 15 June citing the 'continued harassment, coercion and highly unethical conduct of the top management of Dunya News'.

The management quickly formed a Harassment and Gender Equality Committee to investigate her complaint, yet it was made mostly of junior staff who reported to Mirza. The Director of Current Affairs (Ms. Nasim Zehra) and head of the committee tried unsuccessfully to get colleagues to sign a petition, barring Usmani from the office for 'hurt(ing) the sentiments of the Dunya team'. The committee has since made little progress.

An inquiry by the National Press Club (NPC) has been exposed as similarly lacking: the club claims that delays are due to the accused's unwillingness to appear before the committee. It is more likely that top-level stakeholders are involved in stalling the proceedings. Usmani has had two defamation suits filed against her by Mirza, who, according to past colleagues has a reputation for harassment in the industry. She has been approached with offers of money and jobs in return for dropping the matter. At least one of her former news colleagues, Zehra, has made public statements suggesting that her open pursuit of the issue is irresponsible.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Women are commonly victim to sexual harassment in work places across Pakistan. A few years ago 80% of women polled had experienced it.

According to the secretary general of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, although newspapers and broadcast houses have gender policies on paper, few are enacted, and most cases of abuse are not reported due to social pressure. Victims are often from underprivileged backgrounds and put up with abuse for fear of losing their jobs, and ambitious women will endure impolite behavior from their male superiors to get ahead. On the rare occasion that a victim speaks out, she tends to be pressured into silence. This has only led to a sense of impunity among harassment prone men in senior positions.

In Section 509 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), it is stated that 'whoever, intending to insult the modesty of any woman in words, gesture or act; shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or fine, or with both'. On 5 August 2009 the National Assembly's Standing Committee on Law and Justice proposed an amendment that would extend the punishment to three years. At present the proposal is awaiting approval from the Parliament. The punishment will apply to sexual advances, demands for sexual favours and any written, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature which annoys, insults, intimidates or threatens a person at the workplace.

The AHRC is encouraged by this and urges members of parliament to seriously consider the proposal at its next meeting; sexual harassment must be strongly discouraged and the most effective first step will be to establish it as a crime in civil society by responding to it with serious legal punishment.

SUGGESTED ACTION:

Please write to the following authorities calling for an immediate and impartial inquiry into Ms. Maheen Usmani's report. Please also express concern for the prevalent problem of sexual harassment at work in Pakistan and demand that the government start to implement proper legislation to protect the rights of women.

Please be informed that the AHRC is writing a letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, requesting intervention in this case.

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

Re: PAKISTAN: A senior female broadcaster is pressured to keep quiet about being sexually harassed at a major news station

Name of victim:
Ms. Maheen Usmani; senior journalist of Dunya TV News.
Names of perpetrators:
1. Mr. Yusuf Baig Mirza; Managing Director of Dunya TV News.
2. Mr. Mian Amer Mahmood; Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Dunya TV News.
3. Ms. Nasim Zehra; Director Current Affairs of Dunya TV News.

Place of incident: Islamabad.
Date of incident: 11 May 2009 to the present.

I am writing to express my concern over the situation of Ms. Maheen Usmani, a senior broadcaster at Dunya TV News, whose complaints of sexual harassment against a superior are not being adequately addressed within or outside of her former firm. She has suffered continual pressure to drop the charge – including bribery and decisions from suuperiors that damaged her career resulting in her resignation – and is now facing defamation charges.

I ccall the competency of the internal investigation into question, since little has been concluded four months. I also question the will and integrity of the National Press Club (NPC). The club claims that delays in its investigation are due to the accused's unwillingness to appear before the committee. It is more likely that top-level stakeholders are involved in stalling the proceedings.

It should be noted that the perpetrator has an alleged history of harassment in previous workplaces, according to former colleagues.

I am aware that in Pakistan, women are common victims of sexual harassment at their work place and that they face strong social pressure to accept the abuse. Many victims choose to remain silent for fear of reprisals and are afforded little legal protection.

However I am encouraged by the recent proposal of the National Assembly's Standing Committee's to increase the punishment for perpetrators of sexual harassment at work, and urge members of parliament to seriously consider the proposal at its next meeting.

I remain deeply concerned about the inconclusive investigations over the harassment suffered by Ms. Usmani at Dunya News, and about the pressure that may be being exerted by the media house in this case. I therefore ask that the government of Pakistan launch an immediate inquiry into the victim's allegations, and to ensure that Usmani does not come to any more harm for courageously reporting on a crime that does untold damage to the Pakistani work environment.

Sexual harassment must be strongly discouraged. The most effective first step will be to establish it as a crime in civil society by responding to perpetrators with strong legal action.


Yours sincerely,

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

Mr. Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani Prime minister of Pakistan
Prime Minister House
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: + 92 51 9221596
E-mail: secretary@cabinet.gov.pk

Mr. Syed Masood Kausar,
Federal Minister for Law and Justice,
S Block Pakistan Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 920 2628
E-mail: minister@molaw.gov.pk

Chairman,
Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority
6th Floor, Green Trust Tower Jinnah Avenue,
Blue Area Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Tel: +92-51-9202174/ +92-51-9220282
Fax: +92-51-9219634
Email: chairman@pemra.gov.pk

Mr.Syed Mumtaz Alam Gillani
Federal Minister for Human Rights
Ministry of Human Rights
Old US Aid building
Ata Turk Avenue
G-5, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +9251-9204108
Email: sarfaraz_yousuf@yahoo.com

Dr. Faqir Hussain
Registrar
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Constitution Avenue, Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: + 92 51 9213452
E-mail: mail@supremecourt.gov.pk

Mrs. Sarod Lashari
Federal Secretary,
Ministry of Women Development
1st Floor, State Life Building 5
Ministry of Women Development
Islamabad
PAKISTAN Tel :+ 92 51 9206328
Fax No: + 92 51 9201083

"Extreme military pressure" forces closure of daily

Reporters Without Borders said today it was shocked by the closure of Pakistani Urdu-languge daily Asaap. after it came under "tremendous pressure" from the government and the security forces which were controlling its offices both inside and out.

Editor, Abid Mir, speaking on the telephone from Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan told the worldwide press freedom organisation that he had "published the last edition on August 18" as a result of the intimidiation.

"We are shocked by the control and intrusions on the part of the security forces that obstruct the running of the newspaper and constitute a violation of press freedom. The government is adding to the gang-related and Taliban threats with an unacceptable crackdown on journalists. We urge the Pakistani authorities to get this harassment by the security forces stopped and to allow journalists to carry on their work normally", Reporters Without Borders said.

The editor described the Quetta offices as being under the "control of paramilitary security forces and intelligence personnel" for the past two weeks. Around dozens of soldiers from the paramiltary Frontier Corps were deployed inside and outside the offices to check on visitors and staff.

"Our staff are being checked going in and out of the offices and the safety of our team of reporters is very important to us. The security forces are watching both what we publish and what we are talking about", Mir said, adding, "We consider it as a complete intrusion into our professional duty."

The newspaper, which is highly critical of the government, explained these reasons for the shutdown to its readers in a front-page article in the final edition on 18 August. The editor of Asaap told Reporters Without Borders that the provincial government had shown itself "helpless" and that any attempt to seek a legal remedy would be pointless in the face of the security forces.

Elswhere, several local organisations reported that the Frontier Corps forces on 21 August began a "siege" of the English-language daily the Baluchistan Express and the Urdu-language daily Azad. The newspapers said that security agents were carrying out body searches and questioning staff going in and out of the premises. .

Journalists in Baluchistan have faced constant danger since the start of the year. Jan Muhammad Dashti, owner and editor-in-chief of Asaap, was shot and seriously injured on 23 February. A reporter with Dunya TV was hurt in a roadside bomb blast on 10 April and on 11 April, a correspondent on the Baluchistan Express was killed. A journalist working in Quetta told Reporters Without Borders at the time that Baluchi journalists were being "targeted by the security forces".

Afghan journalist shot dead in northwestern Pakistan

Reporters Without Borders is shocked and saddened to learn that Janullah Hashimzada, an Afghan journalist based in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, was killed today in an armed attack on the minibus in which he was travelling near the town of Jamrud in the northwestern Khyber Agency.

“We offer our condolences to Janullah Hashimzada’s family and friends,” Reporters Without Borders said. “His murder highlights the sharp decline in the security situation in Pakistan, especially in the western Tribal Areas, where journalists are less and less free to move about.”

The press freedom organisation added: “We urge the authorities to investigate this targeted killing properly with the aim of identifying its perpetrators and instigators and bringing them to justice. The impunity prevailing in the region must be combated.”

Operating in plain view of other people, three masked men opened fire with pistols on the minibus, killing Hashimzada instantly and wounding another passenger, one of the passengers told a journalist. Hashimzada had been heading back to Peshawar from the border area at the time of the attack. His body was taken to a hospital in Jamrud.

Aged 37 and a student at Peshawar university’s journalism school, Hashimzada worked for several Afghan and Pakistani news media including the Afghan TV station Shamshad, the Pashtun newspapers Vahdat and Sahar. He had also worked for the Afghan independent news agency Pajhwok for the past four years.

Friends said he covered sensitive issues and had been subjected to threats and pressure during the past three weeks to abandon his journalistic work and leave Peshawar.

The head of Pajhwok, Danish Karokhel, told Reporters Without Borders: “He was a professional journalist who covered major stories on the other side of the border. The key to identifying his murderers is to establish who had an interest in preventing the dissemination of the information he possessed.”

Located between Afghanistan and Peshawar and part of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, the Khyber Agency is a strategic region that is wracked by Taliban violence. Hashimzada was the fifth journalist to be killed this year in Pakistan, now the world’s second deadliest country for the media. One other Afghan journalist has been killed this year.

Paramilitary forces besiege offices of Urdu and English dailies in Quetta

Quetta (Balochistan): The paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC) and government
intelligence agencies besieged offices of the Urdu dailies “Asaap”,
and "Azadi" and English daily “Baluchistan Express”, in Quetta, the
capital city of the insurgency plagued Balochistan province of
Pakistan.

Daily “Asaap” shut down its publication on August 19, 2009 saying that
its office has been under siege by the agencies since August 1, 2009
and it was not able function in these circumstances.

The FC personnel began the siege of the offices of English Daily
“Baluchistan Express”, and an Urdu Daily “Azadi” on Friday, August 21,
2009. The newspapers said security agencies are carrying out body
search and intense questioning of the staff on their arrival and
departure from the office. They had also blocked the main entrance of
the colony in which offices of the newspapers are located and
prevented vehicles and persons from visiting their offices.

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has expressed its
dismay and grave concern over terrorizing and harassing the editorial
and other staff members and termed it a direct attack on freedom of
expression and press.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the PFUJ urged upon the Chief
Justice of Pakistan to take notice of this serious incident of high
handedness of the law enforcing agencies and their involvement of
violating the fundamental rights of the citizens.

NWFP Assembly body decides to draw up code of conduct for media

PESHAWAR: The NWFP Assembly's Standing Committee on Information and
Public Relations decided to constitute a code of conduct with the
consent of the newspapers owners to eliminate yellow journalism and
halt blackmailing and biased reporting, while the committee mulled on
FM Radio channel and other issues.

The decision was taken during a meeting of the committee, chaired by
Awami National Party MPA Ghani Dad Khan. It was informed that some
departments and institutions are issuing direct advertisements to
press against the prescribed policy therefore action for such
departments and newspapers should be proposed. Members of the meeting
were apprised about the updated performance, policies, and
distribution of advertisements of the Information Department and
matters relating to newspaper owners and journalists. Ghani Khan on
this occasion proposed that local media should also be encouraged side
by side the national press so as they could be made self-reliant.

The committee observed that after setting up of FM Radio in the
Information Department, its importance and sensitivity had increased.
Therefore, all other government departments stationed in the said
building should be shifted. It was also proposed in the meeting to
revamp the department with latest technology to compete with private
sector. The meeting was told that the Information Department was
commissioning FM Radio in the near future and arrangements for it have
already been finalised. Mian Iftikhar on this occasion said that the
Information Department is now not only restricted to print media but
its area has extended to the electronic media with the starting of FM
Radio.

He furthered apprised the meeting that the establishment of provincial
TV channel was also under consideration; therefore, its new name has
been proposed as Information and Broadcasting Department. It was
further told that the government was establishing press clubs in all
those districts where buildings for press club were not available. In
the first phase, establishing of five press clubs, one each in Karak,
Tank, Shangla, Mardan and Buner Districts were approved.

The meeting also noticed the shortage of Public Relations Officers
(PROs) with the Provincial Ministers and recommended immediate
creation of new posts in this regard. Members of the committee on this
occasion endorsed the services and efforts of Mian Iftikhar Hussein as
a spokesman of the government for elimination of terrorism and
militancy and paid rich tributes to him.

The meeting besides Minister Information and Public Relations Mian
Iftikhar Hussein, MPAs Sikandar Khan Sherpao, Adnan Khan Wazir, Mufti
Kifayatullah and Malik Hayat Khan, was also attended by the Secretary
Information Azmat Haneef Aurakzai and other officers concerned.

Source: Business Recorder 20 August 2009

Five Press Clubs Building will be Constructed in First Phase in NWFP

PESHAWAR: The standing committee of the Provincial Assembly on
Information and Public Relations has proposed that with setting up of
FM Radio in the Information Department, its importance and sensitivity
has been increased, therefore, keeping in view the sensitivity and
security of the situation, all other government departments stationed
in the said building should be shifted at the earliest.

It further proposed that restructuring of the Information Department
should be made and equipped with latest technology’ to counter the
private sector in the field of media.

These proposals were made by the committee in its meeting held Monday
with Ghani Dad Khan MPA in chair.

The meeting was attended by Information Minister Mian Iftikhar
Hussain, MPAs, Sikandar Khan Sherpao, Adnan Khan Wazir, Mufti
Kifayatullah, Malik Hayat Khan, Secretary Information Azmat Haneef
Aurakzai and officials of the ministry.

The meeting also noticed the shortage of PROs with the ministries and
recommended early creation of new posts of PROs.

The meeting was briefed in detail about the updated performance,
policies, distribution of advertisements of the Information

Department and matters relating to the newspapers owners and
journalists. The meeting was told that the Information Department was
commissioning FM Radio in near future and arrangements to that effect
have already been finalized. It was further told that the government
was establishing press clubs in all those districts. where buildings
for the press club were not available.

In the first phase, 5 press clubs one each in Karak, Tank, Shangla,
Mardan and Buner Districts have been approved.

The meeting also decided to form a code of conduct with consent of the
newspapers owners for elimination of yellow journalism and stopping
the trend of blackmailing and biased reporting.

Source: The Nation /RMNP 20 August 2009

Television reporter shot dead

New York, August 14, 2009 - Security forces should immediately
investigate today's shooting murder of TV journalist Siddique Bacha Khan in
the city of Mardan in Pakistan's restive North West Frontier Province, the
Committee to Protect Journalists said.

Unidentified gunmen ambushed Bacha Khan, news correspondent for the
independent Aaj TV channel, and shot him at close range before fleeing the
scene, the channel reported on its Web site. The journalist was critically
injured and died en route to the hospital, according to Aaj TV and the
Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists.

The shooting took place early this morning as he was on his way to work,
the reports said. It is not clear whether the murder was related to his
reporting.

"Siddique Bacha Khan's murder must not go unpunished," said CPJ Deputy
Director Robert Mahoney. "The lack of official investigation into attacks
on journalists is only contributing to a rapidly deteriorating security
situation for the press in Pakistan's northwest."

Pakistan's frontier is a dangerous region for journalists, who frequently
risk attacks from Taliban militants and the government forces fighting them
for control of the territory bordering Afghanistan, according to CPJ
research. Troops fired on a journalist and his driver at a checkpoint in
the area in June, and militants attacked and destroyed the homes of two
journalists in the province's Buner district in separate incidents in July.
Shooting attacks on reporters are often left unsolved, with Pakistan
ranking 10th worst in the world among countries where journalists are
murdered with impunity, according to CPJ's Impunity Index.

Source: CPJ/IFEX

Journalists’ bloodbath

GENEVA: Fifty-nine journalists have been killed around the world so
far this year, in an alarming rise from 2008 that has become a
“bloodbath” of the media, a watchdog said on Thursday.

The Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) said 53 journalists were killed in the
first six months, up from 45 in the first half of last year, but
highlighted another six killings in July, including Russian journalist
and rights activist Natalya Estemirova who was murdered on July 15.

Mexico leads the media blackspots with seven journalists being killed
this year, according to the PEC.

It said there were six journalists killed in Pakistan, five each in
Iraq, the Philippines, Russia and Somalia, four in Gaza and Honduras,
three in Colombia, two each in Afghanistan, Guatemala, Nepal, Sri
Lanka and Venezuela and one in India, Indonesia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan,
and Madagascar.

The PEC called upon all UN states, international organisations and
NGOs to take action “to stop this bloodbath against journalists”.

Source: Dawn 7/24/2009

Radio broadcast by police to keep traffic in order

ISLAMABAD: The FM radio channel of the city’s traffic police will not
only help create awareness among the people but will also be a source
of real-time information for road users, thus streamlining traffic
flow.

This was stated by Minister of State for information and Broadcasting
Sumsam Ali Shah Bukhari during his visit to the Islamabad Traffic
Police (ITP) radio station here on Wednesday.

“The ITP have emerged as a role model for other police organisations,”
Mr Bukhari said.

Acting Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) chairman
Dr Abdul Jabbar, acting Inspector General of Police (IGP) Binyamin,
Senior Superintendent of Police (Traffic) Dr Sultan Azam Temuri and
Superintendent of Police (Traffic) Ashfaq Ahmad Khan were also present
on the occasion.

It seems odd driving a vehicle without FM radio in European countries
as most of the traffic guidelines are provided through radio stations,
the minister said, adding that now the system had been introduced by
the Islamabad Traffic Police for the local residents.


Acting IGP Binyamin said after establishment of Rescue-15 and
reconciliatory committees, the commencement of ITP’s FM radio would
play an effective role in providing security and awareness to the
citizens. “With the help of the public, capital police will succeed in
eliminating the criminals,” he remarked.

SSP Traffic Dr Sultan Azam Temuri thanked all the participants and
said through the FM radio, the ITP would be able to keep motorists
updated on the ever-changing traffic situation.
Source Post/RMNP

The Cyber Crime Ordinance

By Nauman Qaiser

Governments of the industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and
steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind....You have no
sovereignty where we gather....You claim there are problems among us
that you need to solve. You use this claim as an excuse to invade our
precincts....These increasingly hostile and colonial measures place us
in the same position as those previous lovers of freedom and
self-determination who had to reject the authorities of distant,
uninformed powers. We must declare our virtual selves immune to your
sovereignty, even as we continue to consent to your rule over our
bodies. (A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace by John Perry
Barlow, February 8, 1996.)

This declaration, coming exactly two hundred and twenty years after
the Declaration of Independence by several American states,
unequivocally and forcefully pronounces that the political governments
do not have any jurisdiction whatsoever in the cyber domain, and that
any such wanton interference in the form of draconian laws and
ordinances will be resisted with resilience and fortitude by the cyber
community.

The present government, however, seems to be oblivious to and
undeterred by, this categorical declaration by the cyber community,
which has now grown to encompass the mobile phone users, apart from
the traditional Internet users. The recent changes in the Cyber Crimes
(Prevention of Electronic crimes) Ordinance 2008, which is actually a
re-promulgation of the ordinance originally introduced by Musharraf
regime in 2007, not only smack of dictatorial tendencies on part of
the government which believes in legislation through ordinances, but
also aim to quell the right to freedom of expression in the country in
the name of national interest, as has been the proclivity of the
previous governments - whether elected or unelected.


Being an active participant in the Lawyers Movement, there is no doubt
in my mind that it was this unbridled and unrestrained usage of
internet and mobile phones - whereby not only the unpopular
politicians were ridiculed and their ill-advised policies exposed to a
large audience but also large anti-government protests were
orchestrated on short calls - that ultimately proved quite
instrumental in the downfall of the Musharraf regime.

Fearing the same fate, the incumbent government has decided to act
pro-actively: hence. firstly the re-promulgation of the said ordinance
in the end of year 2008 with minor amendments, and now the draconian
changes in the ordinance to punish 'the SMS/Email terrorists' as if
they are more detrimental to the national security than the original
terrorists who wreak havoc, where they want, with impunity, leaving
the person and property of the citizens of the country; in constant
danger and fear.

Now as far as the avowed motives of the incumbent government behind
these amendments in the Cyber Crime act are concerned, interior
advisor in his press conference stated that the changes in the
ordinance were necessitated in order to protect lady members of
Parliament the receive abusive calls or text messages; to prevent
terrorist or banned groups from using the Internet for propaganda
against the Pakistani military; and lastly and most importantly, to
curb slander against the political leadership of the country.

Needless to say that the first motive, i.e. the protection of lady
members of Parliament from abusive calls and text messages, could have
been catered under the existing laws in the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC),
1 860 under Chapter XXII - Criminal intimidation, insult and annoyance
- and there is no need for any specialised law under the Cyber Crime
Act for this. Section 507 and section 509 of this chapter of PPC not
only clearly address the matter at hand but also prescribe
imprisonment of one to four years for these offences along with fine.

As for the second reason, i.e., internet propaganda against Pakistan
military, is concerned; firstly, every one in the country seems to be
happy with, and supporting, the on-going military operation against
the militants in northern and tribal areas of Pakistan. Secondly, if
any such persons does resort to criticising or peddling unwarranted
internet propaganda against the military, existing provisions in the
PPC (Chapter VII, and section 505a) along with other acts cater to
this as well.

With the existing laws catering well to the first two avowed motives
of the changes in the ordinance, one is left with no doubt that the
real motive was to curb slander against the political leadership of
the country, which, interestingly enough, is also dealt with by the
existing laws i.e. the defamation ordinance, 2002 and Chapter XXI of
PPC. What then, was the pressing need for introducing changes in the
ordinance, if the existing laws cover the real motive of the
amendments?

A close perusal of the said chapter of PPC reveals that it relates to
defamation of any person, whether it be a civilian/government
official, and not specifically and thus more elaborately to the
government as done in the ordinance after the amendments; secondly,
the maximum imprisonment prescribed for the offender is two years
along with fine, which, for the cronies of the presidency, is not good
enough for the perpetrators of such a heinous crime: hence the
punishment of 14 years in the amended ordinance - the punishment
which, before the amendments in the Cyber Crime ordinance, could only
be given to a murderer, terrorist, and those undermining the 1973
constitution.

Now the question is whether these amendments in the ordinance would be
able to withstand the public pressure, and more importantly the
judicial review by the ubiquitous superior judiciary of the country?
The previous such tactics like the open threats of the interior
advisor that SMS would be banned; and thereafter, a more practical but
reprehensible act of imposition of new tax on SMS - both could not
endure the public's and mobile companies pressure.

In short, the government must realise that it cannot submit its
citizens to submission by promulgating such harsh legal regimes. It
should, on the other hand, work to improve its image and standing in
the public, which is at the receiving end in all walks of life, with
rampant poverty, growing unemployment, ever-present load shedding and
the deteriorating law and order situation in the country. The
government should be well advised that pushing its own citizens to
yield to submission by intimidatory tactics has never worked and it
will not work this time either.

The writer is a corporate lawyer based in Lahore, E-mail:
naumanqaiser@gmail.com

Source: The Nation

Media Freedom in the Commonwealth
Overview June 2009


Commonwealth countries are still experiencing a poor level of media freedom as we come towards the end of the first decade of the 21st century. This situation is continuously aggravated by internal politics in many of the countries but also exacerbated by the global pressure on the media generally.

As a result of the global economic downturn, many media organisations are suffering severe economic constraints that are affecting their ability to do their job effectively.

For many years, Africa was the epicentre of media freedom crises but, in the past ten years, the focus has moved away as the internal political strife, which afflicted many African countries, has moderated somewhat.

However, the media still suffers frequent and constant abuse, perhaps the most worrying case being that of The Gambia, which has persistently abused the freedom of the media for many years. Sadly The Gambia consistently falls under the radar of many governments and media freedom organisations but the situation for independent media is, and continues to be, appalling.

In the political tumult leading up to the presidential elections in Zimbabwe, press freedom violations multiplied. Several journalists were attacked and beaten, and a truck carrying 60,000 copies of a publication printed in South Africa was burnt. Those who could, fled. The media faced plenty of other judicial hurdles. Editors and media lawyers were repeatedly charged with offences such as "publishing false statements prejudicial to the state and contempt of court" and "undermining the authority or insulting the president" for running opposition politician columns and making remarks about President Robert Mugabe.

In Nigeria, the government reacted strongly to critical media coverage, particularly relating to the health of the president, a repeated source of rumours. In September, the government suspended Channels TV. State Security Services (SSS) held four of its staff members after the station mistakenly aired a hoax report that health reasons may prompt the president to step down. In late 2008, several staff members of an independent daily were interrogated by the SSS and then charged with libel for publishing an article claiming ill health forced the president to cancel official engagements and seek medical treatment from international doctors.

Increased statutory regulation of the media is an issue in several countries. In Botswana the Media Practitioners' Bill, which seeks to introduce a statutory press council, require registration and permit large penalties for violations, is a concern. In Zambia, members of parliament introduced the possibility of statutory instruments after voicing disappointment over politicised election coverage. In Kenya, a bill proposing a government-appointed communications commission was signed and sparked demonstrations that led to arrests of several journalists and other protesters. However now the government has agreed to amend the law to remove a clause allowing them to raid broadcast stations.

In Tanzania, editors and reporters took to the streets to protest against a three-month ban on a weekly that the government accused of fomenting sedition by reporting that some officials sought to oust the President. The information minister said the ban would send "strong signals" to media who published "unethical" reports, but journalists signalled that they would not tolerate such interference.

As the situation in Africa has improved, Asia has deteriorated, particularly South Asia where Pakistan and Sri Lanka are now two of the most dangerous countries on earth to be a journalist. Of the four countries in that region these two have serious internal issues affecting both the industries in their countries and the physical safety of journalists.

Pakistan has been troubled for a number of years. Its North West Frontier Province is an increasingly lawless area where the media is under sustained attack. Combined with the sophisticated legal instruments in place there, media freedom is under constant threat.

Sri Lanka has descended into a nightmare for journalists, particularly the Tamil community. Anyone trying to report on the horrendous situation in the north is accused of treason and many senior journalists have fled overseas. The murder of a leading editor earlier this year, combined with the brutal attacks on other media practitioners, has created a worrying situation in which it is believed - although unproven - that the Government is complicit. The recent reinstitution of the moribund statutory press council signals another worrying attempt by the Government to muzzle the media.

Bangladesh continues to concern the international media community. Attacks on journalists - for hard to explain reasons - continue. India, by comparison, with its sophisticated and vast media, is suffering far more in economic terms and, although there have been attacks on journalists, these appear to be more related to business than political issues. However, there are some significant legal issues that need addressing, particularly the use of contempt.

Other Asian medias continue to experience sustained legal and institutional attacks. Global calls to rid legal systems of criminal penalties for defamation, whether involving the reputation of states, political leaders or individuals, have met with little success. With many Western European nations failing to take the lead in such reform, it is not surprising that authoritarian leaders elsewhere have readily relied on such provisions to harass journalists.

Malaysia and Singapore continue to have significant media freedom issues but Malaysia's expanding blog sector has found a way of circumventing some of the restrictions. Ironically, the former Prime Minister Mahathir has launched a wildly successful and critical blog (in both Malay and English), which seems to ignore the fact that, when in power, he was a harsh critic of media freedom. The Singapore media by comparison remains rigidly under the state's control.

Amongst the smaller nations of the Commonwealth, the Caribbean countries continue to experience serious problems, with governments responding heavy-handedly to criticisms of ruling parties voiced on talk-radio programmes or in the press. Guyana in particular has had some significant issues to deal with and the media and government exist in an uneasy relationship that requires close monitoring. The deportation of a Jamaican journalist from Grenada does put a question mark over the supposed commitment to media freedom that the regional governments often express.

The decision by the interim government in Fiji to postpone elections earlier this year has created a difficult environment for the media to function in and signals a need for close monitoring of a potentially volatile situation. The media in both Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu have experienced signals that their governments are prepared to use legal means to reinforce their authority if necessary. Australia also has raised some concerns, with the authorities' stance on protection of sources, and there have been some related incidents. On the other hand, the Cook Islands became the first Pacific state to introduce a Freedom of Information bill.

Finally, the UK itself has some significant media freedom issues, not least the whole question of conditional fee agreements in court cases, freedom of information and protection of sources. Also, the long-standing campaign to get criminal defamation abolished has stalled in the recent political crisis.

An area that needs to be addressed is that of bloggers. It is increasingly obvious that these "new" media are going to become a significant factor in avoiding the constraints that the conventional media are bound by and need to be brought on side. Many bloggers are not journalists and therefore there needs to be a degree of caution as blogging can open the door to hate speech and defamation. But many journalists are also bloggers and we need to utilise their knowledge and experience to get first hand, plausible information on the situation in various countries.

Although compared with some other regions of the world the Commonwealth has a better history of media freedom, it must not allow complacency to set in. Several Commonwealth countries rank amongst the worst in the world for media freedom and a majority have significant legal and political issues which affect media freedom and need to be monitored and addressed to ensure the situation does not worsen.

Lindsay Ross
Consultant to the Commonwealth Press Union Media Trust
June 2009

Joint open letter from the IFJ and RSF to the President regarding threats made against journalists

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

Honourable Mr Asif Ali Zardari
President
Islamic Republic of Pakistan

May 26, 2009

Dear President Zardari,

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and Reporters
Without Borders (RSF) respectfully seek your urgent intervention to
ensure the protection of three senior journalists in Peshawar,
North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), whose lives may be in immediate
danger.

The IFJ and RSF are alarmed to learn that several senior journalists
based in Peshawar and NWFP have been named on a “hit list” by
individuals grouped under the banner of Taliban. The list reportedly
names Sohail Qalandar, resident editor of the Daily Express and
vice-president of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), an
IFJ affiliate; Iqbal Khattak, bureau chief of The Daily Times; and
Peshawar Press Club president Shamim Shahid, bureau chief of The
Nation; as well as several other journalists.

We received information about threats against these three journalists
following the posting of a pamphlet outside media offices in Mingora
on 28 April 2009 warning that journalists would be punished under
Sharia law if they were perceived to report negatively about militant
groups.

The three named journalists are well-known in their communities and
internationally for their commitment to their work, even as they risk
grave threats to the safety of themselves and their families. The IFJ
and RSF are extremely concerned that their lives may be in danger.

We respectfully request that you exert your authority as President of
Pakistan to take urgent action to condemn any suggestion or threat of
attacks against these three men and other media personnel in Pakistan,
and make clear your concerns for their safety.

We further request that you direct your government, its offices and
provincial authorities in NWFP to take all necessary action to ensure
the security of these three men and all media personnel in NWFP and
other areas of conflict in Pakistan.

The IFJ and RSF remind the Government of Pakistan of its obligations
as a signatory to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and to the
1997 Additional Protocol on the Protection of Victims of
Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II) to ensure the
protection of journalists as civilians. Article 13 of Protocol II
states: “The civilian population as such, as well as individual
civilians, shall not be the object of attack. Acts or threats of
violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the
civilian population are prohibited.”

In addition, we draw your attention to United Nations Security Council
Resolution 1738, which was adopted in 2006 and explicitly stresses the
civilian status of journalists reporting in war zones and crisis areas
within national borders. The resolution stipulates: “… that all
parties to an armed conflict comply fully with the obligations
applicable to them under international law related to the protection
of civilians in armed conflict, including journalists, media
professionals and associated personnel.”

Therefore, international law emphasizes the responsibility of
Pakistan’s Government to remedy the threats made against our three
above mentioned colleagues, as individual journalists and as civilians
who are conducting their work in an environment of non-international
armed conflict.

The role of Pakistan’s journalists and media workers is more important
than ever in gathering and conveying impartial and accurate
information about the conflict and the humanitarian crisis in NWFP. It
is imperative that journalists and media workers are able to conduct
their important work with the maximum protection and provision of
safety measures available.

You will be aware that Pakistan has gained an unenviable reputation as
one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists and
media workers. Twelve journalists and media workers have been killed
in Pakistan since the beginning of 2008. Very many others have been 
and continue to be  assaulted and threatened in an effort to silence
reporting on matters of national and international significance.

The IFJ and RSF understand that scare tactics such as hit lists are
commonly used by militant groups in various districts of Pakistan in
an effort to block or distort media coverage of their activities. The
risk of serious harm for the named journalists is very real and
authorities must take action to address these threats.

Additionally, more than 100 journalists and their families are among
the thousands of people who have fled areas around Swat to Peshawar
and surrounding towns in recent days. The absence of media personnel
in the conflict zone, and the extreme difficulties in gathering
information from the region, are a matter of international concern and
pose serious ramifications for the thousands of internally displaced
who are now struggling to access emergency relief.

Again, we respectfully request that you use your authority as
President to act on the grave concerns held by the IFJ and RSF for the
welfare of our colleagues in Pakistan, including Iqbal Khattak, Shamim
Shahid, and Sohail Qalandar, in the spirit of serving the best
interests of all people in Pakistan.

Yours respectfully,

Aidan White
General Secretary
International Federation of Journalists

Jean-François Julliard
General Secretary
Reporters Without Borders

Emergency funds for journalists who had to flee Swat valley fighting

Reporters Without Borders has sent emergency funds to help the dozens
of Swat valley journalists who have been forced to flee the area
because of fighting between the Pakistani army and the Taliban.

More than 30 journalists and their families have had to seek refuge in
Peshawar and other cities since the army launched its offensive
against Islamist militants in the Swat valley. The valley’s newspapers
have had to stop publishing and most of their journalists are now
without any means of support.

“Like hundreds of thousands of their fellow citizens, the journalists
and their families have had to flee the extreme violence in the Swat
region,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Unable to work, these
journalists must now concentrate on finding shelter and food for their
loved-ones. Reporters Without Borders has sent 5,000 euros in
emergency funds which the Khyber Union of Journalists will distribute
to help meet their initial needs for housing, food and medical care
for themselves and their children.”

“The humanitarian crisis is likely to persist so these funds must be
seen as just a first step paving the way for massive support for these
journalists, whose flight has left the Swat valley without media
coverage,” Reporters Without Borders added. “We appeal to
international news media, journalists unions and organisations that
defend the press to mobilise resources to help their Swat valley
colleagues.”

Khyber Union of Journalists president Mohammad Riaz has issued an
appeal on behalf of the Swat valley’s media and displaced journalists.
No security measures have so far been taken that would enable the
media to resume operating the in valley.

Source: RSF 15 May 2009

Extremists try to disrupt Indo-Pak journalists’ moot

NEW DELHI: Activists of the Shri Ram Sena, a Hindu extremist group,
tried to disrupt a Pak-India journalists moot here on Wednesday.

Organised by the Foundation for Professional Journalists, two groups
of journalists from each country formed a panel for a discussion on
“Is media jingoism fanning Indo-Pak tensions.” Journalists from
Pakistan included Rahimullah Yusufzai, Saeed Minhas, Muniba Kamal and
Beena Sarwar.

A large number of journalists and academicians participated in the
discussion. As Rahimullah Yusufzai was speaking on the subject, a
group of Shri Ram Sena activists stood up and started raising slogans
against Pakistan. The slogans included “Jang Karen Ge Pakistan Se.”

The activists tried to rush towards Yusufzai but the organisers and
participants pushed them out and locked the door. They continued
raising slogans against Pakistan outside the hall. Later, a police
contingent reached the spot to control the situation. Later, talking
to APP Yusufzai described it an “unfortunate incident.” He said it was
purely an academic discussion and had nothing to do with the politics
between Pakistan and India.

Source: The News 4/16/2009

Attack on journalists by Hindu extremists flayed

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Union of Journalists (KhUJ) and the Crimes
Journalists Forum (CJF) NWFP has condemned attack on Pakistani
journalists by Hindu fanatics in India and demanded of the governments
of both India and Pakistan to take effective measures for protection
of media-persons.

In a joint press statement, KhUJ President Mohammed Riaz and General
Secretary Yousaf Ali said that journalists had frequently been
attacked in India as well as in Pakistan, which should be a matter of
serious concern for the governments of both the countries.

They urged the Indian government to thoroughly probe the incident and
award exemplary punishment to the perpetrators so that such happenings
could be averted in future. The KhUJ representatives said that a
conference on the role of media in mounting tension was going on in
New Delhi’s International Centre when some Hindu fanatics reportedly
from Shri Ram Sena started chanting derogatory slogans against
Pakistan and the visiting Pakistani journalists. The security persons
and some Indian journalists, however, quickly moved into action and
pushed the activists out of the hall. The event was being participated
by five each journalists from India and Pakistan.

The time when the incident took place, senior Pakistan journalist
Rahimullah Yusufzai was presenting paper in the conference.Meanwhile,
the Crimes Journalists Forum (CJF) NWFP also condemned an attempt to
attack Pakistani journalists by Hindu extremists in New Delhi and
asked the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to duly punish the
culprits. CJF President Javed Aziz Khan and General Secretary Imran
Bukhari expressed shock over the attack and said that newspersons were
working for promotion of peace in the region, which was a must for its
development.

The CJF hoped the Indian prime minister and other government
functionaries would take the issue seriously and duly punish the
attackers allegedly belonging to Shri Ram Sena after a proper inquiry.
The seminar on ‘Is Media Jingoism Fanning the India-Pak Problem?’ had
been organised by the Foundation for Media Professionals and some
Pakistani journalists were also invited to the event.

Sources: RMNP/Press Release/ The News

Missing Journalist Arrives Faisalabad

Faisalabad.April15: The local missing journalist returned home here
after a week. Khawar Shafique was missing mysteriously for last seven
days and media persons of Faisalabad have been protesting against
this incident. Executive Director Nation Council of Human Rights Rao
Zafar Iqbal told the newsmen that Khawar Shafique had a library and
were busy in research there and was not missing,while the missing
journalist came back safe and sound and filed an application for the
registration of case and told his colleagues that he was taken to
unknown place near RahimyarKhan. Meanwhile Faisalabad Press Club office
bearers alleged that the journalist was kidnapped by agencies.

Source RMNP

High Court Orders Registration of Case on the Petition of Rural Journalist

Tranda Mohd Panah.April 15 (Rural Pakistan): Under the directions of
Lahore High Court Bahawalpur Bench, Regional Police Bahawalpur has
ordered Police to register a case against SHO Police Station Tranda
Mohd Panah Shahnshah Chandia and Sub Inspector Yousaf Godha who had
registered a fake case against a rural journalist Khalid Khan Niazi
Correspondent Daily Khabrain Multan and his brother Nasar Niazi and
detained them in police lockup on 1st February 2009. According to
victim journalist Mohd Khalid Niazi, he had caught redhanded SHO
Shahnshah Chandia and Sub Inspector Yousaf Godha for illegally
stocking fertilizer on a petrol pump. He reported about this illegal
business in his newspaper, resultantly both brothers were rounded up by
police and registered a fake against them.They were released on a
bail by the orders of local court.

Source: RMNP

Suicide Bombers

Uchsharif (Rural Pakistan): Three suicide bombers entered in historical
town Uchsharif where annual festival is being held nowadays. This place
is 15 kilometers away where RMNP is residing. This information released
by Government as per reports gathered by intelligence
agencies. Security tightened in the area. Shia sect Imambargahs and
Sunni sect mosques may be the target of these terrorists, Government
says. This news widely published in local, regional and national
newspapers. It is pertinent to mention that town Uchsharif is
historical place came into existence three thousand years ago. A large
number of saints were buried here, hence Muslims call it Naib Madina.

Kidnapped journalist escapes

BAHAWALPUR: Khawar Shafiq, a Faisalabad-based journalist who `went
missing’ while going to home at Chak No 14, Ram Dewali on Sargodha
Road in Faisalabad on Tuesday night, fled his captors’ custody in
Liaquatpur, 120 kilometres from here, on Saturday night.

On arrival in Bahawalpur, Mr Shafiq claimed that he fled while the car
(KHN-2627) he was being transported to some unspecified location by
his captors broke down near Mauza Jindoo Pir on Liquatpur-Channigoth
Road.

Mr Shafiq said he was kidnapped by three bearded men from his village
on April 7 evening. The kidnappers bundled him into a white car and
soon he was administered some liquid spiked with intoxicants and
afterwards he fell unconscious.

When he regained consciousness, he found himself on a charpoy in a
dark room and was without his cell phone, cash and other belongings.
He said his captors treated him inhumanly.

Mr Khawar claimed that his kidnapping was linked with the opening of
the office of the Daniel Pearl Foundation in Faisalabad. The
foundation founded by Daniel’s father Dr Judea Pearl was set up in the
memory of Mr Pearl who was killed in Pakistan a few years ago.

US Consulate principal officer Brian D. Hunt had inaugurated the
office and the US consulate had also provided the office with 100
books on Jews and other inter-faith matters.

He said during his confinement his captors grilled him on this matter
and “my links with Jews and Hunt”. Sometimes, they also tortured him
and asked the addresses and details about those six Pakistanis,
including some TV anchors, who had been awarded fellowships by the
Daniel Pearl Foundation.


Mr Shafiq claimed the kidnappers had told him that he would be
presented before the ‘Sheikh’, who would decide his fate. During his
captivity, Mr Shafiq said, it felt that he had been detained in some
rural area, where he could hear ‘azaan’ or prayer calling in the
morning.

He said the kidnappers claimed themselves as the members of an
“Islamic Soldiers’ Front”.

On Saturday after Maghrab prayers, the two captors asked him to change
his dress. Armed with pistols, they got him on the car and after
traveling on some bumpy road for about one-and-a-half hour, the car
broke down. He claimed that while his captors were busy repairing the
fault, he got off the car and started strolling along the road.

Soon he ran away from the scene taking advantage of the darkness.
After covering over one kilometer, he got a bus coming from Rahim Yar
Khan. The bus conductor informed him that he was near Jindoopeer Adda,
where he disembarked from the bus and took shelter in a shop of an
ex-serviceman.

Inside the shop, he phoned his colleagues in Bahawalpur and
Faisalabad. He said his captors also came to the adda in search for
him but the shopkeeper hid him in the rear portion of the shop. Later,
Mr Shafiq arrived in Bahawalpur and on Sunday, he was finally reunited
with his family in Faisalabad.

Sources:RMNP/ Majeed Gill(BUJ)

Satish Anand released from captivity after 6 months

KARACHI: Renowned filmmaker and Bollywood actress Juhi Chawala’s
uncle, Satish Anand, who was kidnapped some six months ago has been
released by the kidnappers after a negotiated ransom amount was paid.

Anand, along with his family and Citizen Police Liaisons Committee
(CPLC) chief Sharfuddin Memon arrived in Karachi from Islamabad. He
was in the captivity of the kidnappers at the place located at a
distance of four to five hours from Bannu, Miranshah.

Anand remains physically and mentally fit and expressed his happiness
and peace at being released and meeting his family. “I was in their
captivity for such a long time. They could have killed me but they
never touched me. They provided me proper accommodation, served good
food in a proper manner and frequently held conversations with me in a
friendly manner,” said Anand.

He said that the kidnappers threatened him and his family while making
a call for ransom. “I was unable to identify any of them as I was
blindfolded. I am happy that they did not kill me and also want to say
thanks to the officials concerned in this matter,” Anand told
investigators a short while after his release. His release was made
after the family paid Rs 16 million after prolonged negotiations with
the kidnappers, as they demanded Rs 50 million for his release. “I do
not think that the family has paid the full amount as it seems that
they have paid a lesser ransom amount,” CPLC’s Memon told Daily Times.

He added that the said network of culprits have already been busted
with the arrests of retired Major Haroon Rasheed, retired Major Basit
and their two companions, Talib and Salman by the law enforcement
agencies that placed pressure on the kidnappers to release Anand.
“Meanwhile, CPLC has also played a vital role in the negotiations to
train Anand’s family how to deal with the kidnappers and also provided
them with technical support.

It is a major responsibility when it comes to handling the family
members of an abducted person and that too for a long time while
negotiations takes place,” Memon added. He said that Anand was kept in
a war zone area where the Taliban are fighting with the security
forces and this led to the delay in the ransom deal. “For the past six
months, the kidnappers called Anand’s family 25 times for
negotiations. In these calls, he was allowed to talk to his family for
four to five minutes,” Memon said.

It is pertinent to mention here that the culprits who were arrested
earlier by law enforcers revealed during investigation that they had
kidnapped three other people belonging to Waziristan and had also kept
Anand in the War zone area. The key player in the Anand kidnapping
case happens to be ex-army Major Haroon Rasheed. The Rawalpindi
Motorway police arrested Rasheed along with his associate Talib when
they were shifting a local businessman to NWFP. Both kidnappers were
handed over to the Rawalpindi CID. Upon Rasheed’s confession, two more
people, Basit and Salman were arrested in Karachi. However, sources
say that Anand’s release was made using the locals to deal with Ilyas
Kashmiri, leader of the arrested persons’ group who is also running a
brigade of Harkatul Mujahideen-Al-Islami. Kashmiri is also involved in
kidnapping people from across the country to support the militant
activists waging Jihad against the security forces.

Source: Daily Times

Journalist Missing in Faisalabad

Faisalabad A local journalist went missed mysteriously, the
other day. The family sources have disclosed that Khawaja Sharif has
disappointed suddenly. Police have also confirmed the missing of
journalist. However Executive Director Nation Council for Human Rights
Rao Zafar Iqbal said that Khawar Shafique had established a library
and was searching on the killing of a US journalist Denial Pearl. He
further stated that missing journalist was also associated with an
NGO. He disclosed that some days ago Khawar called him and was worried
that two CPUS from his library were stolen but monitors were
there. Meanwhile media persons of Faisalabad have seriously protested
against the issue and demanded the government to play its vital role
in this regard.
Source: RMNP 9 April 2009

Illegal FM radio channels blocked in Charsadda

PESHAWAR: On the directive of federal government, the Charsadda
District Administration closed seven illegal FM radio stations.
According to sources, the district administration was advised by the
federal government to immediately block the transmission of all FM
radio stations operating illegally in the area.

As a result, the local authorities blocked transmission of seven FM
radio stations set up in Charsadda city and Shabqadar.

These radio stations were being used in seminaries and mosques for the
purpose of teaching.

Pervaiz Shaukat Group wins PFUJ elections

ISLAMABAD: Pervaiz Shaukat has been elected president of the Pakistan
Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ).
In elections held at the Faisalabad Press Club on Sunday, the panel
led by Mr Shaukat bagged all slots for office-bearers.
Mr Shaukat defeated Huma Ali, the outgoing president, and Shamsul
Islam Naz was elected secretary-general.
Asad Sahi and Suhail Qalandar were elected vice-presidents while
Shakeel Yameen Kanga and Waseem Farooq Shahid are the new assistant
secretaries-general. Makhdoom Bilal Amir will be the new treasurer.
Mr Shaukat, the newly-elected PFUJ chief, said he would strive for
freedom of media and implementation of the Seventh Wage Award.
President Asif Ali Zardari has congratulated the Pervaiz Shaukat Group
on its victory.
In a message, the president expressed hope that the new office-bearers
would carry out their duties with professionalism.
Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira also congratulated the Pervaiz
Shaukat group. Over 200 journalists from across the country attended
the 29th biennial delegates meeting in Faisalabad on Sunday.

Source: Dawn

Journalist Shot at

Hujra Shah Muqeem (Rural Pakistan): A journalist and Chairman of Rajowal
Press Club Naveed Akhter Summan was shot by a local proclaimed
offender Arif Kamboh.Early morning, the PO Arif Kamboh with his
Co-apprentices stopped Naveed a local TV channel Correspondent on road
and started reckless firing injuring him seriously. He was taken to
General hospital Lahore where he is in serious condition. The
journalists raised a demo against the incident and blocked GT Road and
demanded the authorities concerned to arrest the culprits.

Source.RMNP

Reaction to two killings in two weeks

Multan (South Punjab): Concurrent killings of two journalists in less
than a week time sparked severe reaction among cross sections of
society. here, as journalists, civil society activists and political
workers staged a joint protest demonstration outside Multan Press
Club and shouted slogans against government and police for their
failure in giving protection to the journalists. The participants of
the protest demonstration shouted slogans like, Down with Police, Down
with Government. We want Protection, Arrest the Killers of
Journalists. They called for the immediate arrest of the killers of
both journalists

A senior reporter of The Nation, Raja Asad, was shot dead on Thursday
night by an unidentified assailants in Islamabad while another senior
reporte of English TV Channel Dawn News, Malik Tariq, was shot dead by
alleged dacoits on Sunday night in Lahore.

The district Union of Journalists Okara showed great concern over the murder of journalist
Raja Assad Hameed the correspondent of The Nation and Waqt and Waqt
News.The local journalists said that the media community has become
insecure and demanded the government to provide them security.

Journalists Protest Raja Asad Hameed murder

Ahmedpur East (Rural Pakistan) March 27: Ahmedpur Press Club Ahmedpur East set up a protest camp this noon at Chowk Munir Shaheed against the brutal murder of Waqt TV and The Nation Correspondent in Rawalpindi and maltreatment of Sadar Police with local Sama TV Channel correspondent Zahid Gul.

A large number of local journalists staged a sit on as a mark of protest while placards inscribed with the demand of the arrest of killers of Rawalpindi journalist and suspension of Sadar Police AhmedpurEast officials were displayed in the camp.

On receiving the information, Deputy Superintendent Police AhmedpurEast Amir Taimour Khan and SHO City Police station Mian Noor Mohd visited the protest camp, where they offered dialogue to President National Press Union Ehsan Ahmed Sehar and his protestors colleagues. He told Press Club office bearers that Circle Police would accept the decision of Senior Journalist Ehsan Ahmed Sehar.

A meeting of the office bearers of Ahmedpur Press Club was held with DSP Amir Taimour Khan in City Police station, where on the demand of the journalists, Head Constable Rao Mohd Anwar of Sadar Police was placed under suspension.

Circle Police Chief told that he had conducted an inquiry into the yesterday evening incident. He revealed that Head Constable Rao Mohd Anwar had misguided the SHO Sadar Police Station Chaudhry Abrar Gujjar and tortured TV channel Correspondent Zahid Gul while taking photograph of women protestors on the road. DSP summoned SHO Chaudhry Abrar Gujjar who also regretted with victim journalist Zahid Gul.

Senior Journalist Ehsan Ahmed Sehar told DSP Amir Taimour Khan that he had constituted five members committee to deal local press club matters.

Circle Police Chief Amir Taimour Khan invited committee members Syed Sarfraz Hussein Zaidi, Salman Farooqi, Dr Abdul Hameed Saqib, Shabbir Ahmed Qureshi and Mohd Rafique Safdar to meet him in his office on 30th March at 2 PM, so the genuine grievances of local journalists be redressed.

Meanwhile Ahmedpur Press Club in a meeting which was chaired by Senior Journalist Ehsan Ahmed Sehar has expressed its deep concern over the rising killings of working journalists in Pakistan and demanded of Government to provide security to cover to print and electronic media journalists.

Source: RMNP 27 March 2009



Conditions for press worsen in Pakistan

NEW YORK, March 23: The already murderous conditions for the press in Sri
Lanka and Pakistan deteriorated further in the past year, the Committee to
Protect Journalists announced on Monday

In a press statement CPJ said the newly updated Impunity Index, a list of
countries where journalists were killed regularly and governments failed to
solve the crimes, showed that Sri Lanka and Pakistan had registered a sharp
increase in the index.

Colombia, historically one of the world’s deadliest nations for the press,
improved as the rate of murders declined and prosecutors won important
recent convictions.

This year’s report is being released in Manila to mark the fourth
anniversary of the murder of Marlene Garcia-Esperat, a Philippine columnist
who reported on corruption in the government’s agriculture department.
Garcia-Esperat was gunned down in her home in front of her family in a case
that has become emblematic of the struggle against impunity. Two government
officials are accused of ordering her murder.

"We’re distressed to see justice worsen in places such as Sri Lanka and
Pakistan. Our findings indicate that the failure to solve journalist murders
perpetuates further violence against the press," said Joel Simon, CPJ’s
executive director. "Countries can get off this list of shame only by
committing themselves to seeking justice."

CPJ’s Impunity Index calculates the number of unsolved journalist murders as
a percentage of a country’s population. CPJ examined every state for the
years 1999 through 2008. Cases are considered unsolved when no convictions
have been obtained. Only those nations with five or more unsolved cases are
included on this Index, a threshold reached by 14 countries this year.

Iraq, Sierra Leone, and Somalia top the Impunity Index. But most of the list
encompasses peacetime democracies with functioning law enforcement, nations
such as Russia, the Philippines and India.

Source: CPJ 3/24/2009

Release of Canadian journalist sought

PESHAWAR: The journalist community from the NWFP and tribal area have called
for releasing of Canadian journalist Khadeeja AbduJ Qahar who is in custody
of unknown people in the Waziristan region.

"We appeal kidnappers to release the Canadian journalist on humanitarian
grounds," remarked senior journalist Behroz Khan during a press conference
here on Saturday.

Shamjm Shahid, president Peshawar Press Club; Ziaui Haq, Vice-president
Khyber Union of Journalists; and Mehboob Afridi of the Tribal Union of
Journalists were also present on the occasion.

Mr Khan said that Ms Qahar was not only a woman but was a devoted Muslim as
well, therefore, they appealed to the captors to make her free on
humanitarian and religious grounds.

He said that the Canadian journalist had made a mistake of entering the
tribal region without permission. But her act could be considered a part of
"journalist curiosity" for getting hard and first hand news, he added.

The kidnappers had threatened that they would kill the journalist if their
demands were not met. They had demanded $2 million as ransom for her
release.

Behroz Khan said that the journalist had suffered a lot for the mistake,
therefore, she should be made free in the larger interests of the Muslim
community in general and PakJituns in particular.

He said that she was unaware of the tribal traditions and tribal areas’
geography. Her prolonged captivity could affect the image of the country and
its people. He repeated demand for her early release. The journalist
community from the volatile NWFP and tribal areas also called upon religious
leaders and politicians to help them in early recovery of the Canadian
journalist, who according to a visual report, was made hostage in the border
regions between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Robbers kill DawnNews’ Lahore reporter

LAHORE: Robbers shot dead reporter-anchor Malik Tariq Javed of Dawn News in
the Defence Housing Authority on Sunday night.

Police said the journalist was going on foot along with a Waqt TV reporter,
when two robbers stopped them and asked them to hand over cash and
cellphone.

When Tanq resisted, the out- laws opened fire and escaped. Tariq suffered
severe injuries and was taken to the National Hospital Defence where he was
pronounced dead.

Tariq, who was living in a rented house in the area, did his masters in
International Relationsfrom the Quaiq-e-Azam University, Islamabad and,
worked for ARY TV for about to four years.

He was on medical leave after suffering injuries in a road accident near
Jati Umra and was scheduled to resume work on Monday.

Source: Dawn 3/23/2009

Cable transmission of two tv channels suspended in some major cities

Bahawalpur(.South Punjab).Pakistan Peoples Party led government suspended the cable transmission of GEO and Aaj TV Stations in several major cities yesterday amid long march by lawyers and opposition parties for the restoration of deposed Chief Justice Supreme Court Mohd Iftikhar Chaudhry. However cable transmissions of both TV channels have not been
suspended in South Punjab major cities and rural zones.

Meanwhile Federal Information Minister Ms Sherry Rehman has resigned from her office as
a mark of protest against the alleged decision of President House, but
her resignation has not yet been accepted by Prime Minister.

The Rural Media Network Pakistan has condemned the suspension of cable transmission of Geo and Aaj TV stations and demanded of President Asif Ali Zardari to withdraw his order and ensure freedom of expression as per manifesto of slain PPP Chairperson Ms Benazir Bhutto.

Source: RMNP