Killing the messenger: will there ever be an end to it?


Ansar Mahmood Bhatti

Killing media people in Pakistan has become order of the day. Just recently a journalist Malik Mumtaz was killed in Miranshah. It was of course not the first incident. As a matter of fact many journalists, or to be more specific 51 journalists have so far been killed in Pakistan in last ten years or so. The number is quite alarming and the disturbing fact is that this number is constantly on the rise. Despite government tall claims nothing has been done so far to provide protection to the messengers. 
It has never been so difficult to be a journalist in Pakistan as it is now. You never know you will return to your home once you step out for performance of your official duties. Government and opposition both would say they have given so much independence to media and there is complete freedom of expression. But as soon as media starts exposing their wrong doings the same media becomes rogue and the same leaders would become furious. We have seen in the past media houses were forced to trim size of their publications. The situation during dictatorships becomes even worse. The moment you write something against the iron man, hell is let loose.
Nevertheless sometimes journalists too are responsible if anything goes wrong with them. Problem arises when they cross certain limits. The race for breaking news has ostensibly enhanced vulnerability level therefore they will have to take care of themselves for no media house owner will come to help them except airing some news; condemning the murder; asking the government for early arrest of culprits and some words of consolation for the bereaved family. And that’s it. After few days everybody would forget about the incident. Therefore if the government of the day is responsible to give protection to media people, journalists too have to act carefully, especially keeping in view the fact that they are discharging their duties in a country where rule of law is a big problem.
PTI’s intra-party elections
PTI’s intra-party elections are in full swing and so is the internal fighting and haggling. In Gujranwala and last week in Rawalpindi too, unruly scenes were witnessed during the election process, which of course will set a bad precedent keeping in view philosophy of Imran Khan who is considered a torch bearer of propriety in politics.  We hope he will take necessary notice of the events followed by some concrete action against those who tried to tarnish image of his party, especially an action is needed against those who perpetrated brutality against media people. Having said that, these incidents are but natural because PTI is still in the process of evolution and it will take some time when the party is fully on track. At the same time, the drill in itself is a praiseworthy step because it is happening for the first time in the history of any political party that election at grassroots level are taking place. Alas the leading political party of Pakistan too take some cue from this exercise and hold genuine intra-party elections because if they cannot introduce democracy in their own ranks how can they do it in the entire country?