In december’ 2011 Committee to Protect Journalists issued a report listing Pakistan as the deadliest country for journalists for a second year.
CPJ’s analysis found notable shifts from historical data: Targeted murders declined while deaths during dangerous assignments such as the coverage of street protests reached their highest level on record. Photographers and camera operators, often the most vulnerable during violent unrest, died at rates more than twice the historical average.
Out of the 43 journalists killed around the world in 2011, seven of the deaths were in Pakistan marking the heaviest losses in a single nation. While killings have increased, threats and intimidation have become a norm. Renowned journalists have made death threats public in order to highlight the growing trend. With journalists like Najam Sethi and Hamid Mir both mainstream journalists being threatened, grave questions have been raised on the security of reporters who are on the front lines every single day. One of the most common methods of attacking a journalists credibility is to label them as sell-out and agents working for foreign intelligence agencies.
The latest of these threats and libel is Zaid Hamid and his supporters, who have filed a petition in the Supreme Court of Pakistan seeking death penalty, under treason, for a number of journalists as well as the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA). Even though the petition is based on false accusations, lacks evidence and is most likely to be dismissed it has put the lives of several journalist under threat. More over, Zaid Hamid and his supporters are using this as a tactic to intimidate journalists and instill fear, labeling any press coverage critical of the government or the military as treasonous.
A cyber-wing of the campaign regularly targets journalists by releasing videos announcing them as traitors and demanding people to report their social media profiles, this is not only defamation but also infringement of one’s privacy and freedom of expression. We urge the supreme court to defend freedom of every pakistan to think critically, to uphold freedom of press and curb the culture of intimidation.