By Meena Menon
A week after Prime Minister Muhammed Nawaz Sharif said he wanted to make Pakistan a journalist-friendly country, there was a targeted attack on anchorperson and columnist Raza Rumi in Lahore on Friday night, which killed his driver.
Various journalists’ groups protested the attack including the National Press Club of Islamabad and Rawalpindi (NPC), the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and the Rawalpindi Islamabad Union of Journalists.
At the modest gathering outside the National Press Club, journalists condemned the attack and said the government had failed in its duty to protect journalists. Shehryar Khan, president of NPC said that this was not only an attack on Raza Rumi but on all journalists and this was a clear attempt to silence the community.
Last week Mr. Sharif met Ms Kati Marton, Trustee of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) who called on him with a four –member delegation.
Mr. Sharif said journalists are a vibrant part of society and providing a safe and secure environment to them is the government’s responsibility. The government is forming a commission of media persons, public figures and officials which will propose measures to be adopted to protect journalists in the field and ensure their well being, according to an official statement.
Ms Marton later appreciated the Prime Minister’s resolve towards strengthening democratic institutions in Pakistan and also his role in pursuing journalist Wali Khan Babar’s case which resulted in the conviction of his killers.
However, Pakistan is still considered a dangerous place for journalists and earlier this month, Abrar Tanoli was shot and later died in a hospital in Abbottabad. Based in Mansehra, he was a photographer and writer. He was threatened first and later gunmen shot him while he was travelling in his car with his family.
The attack on Mr. Rumi is the latest in the line of attacks on the Express New group which has had to tone down its criticism on the Taliban after the killing of three of staffers in Karachi. Its office too was attacked twice last year.