Pakistan - Another deadly attack on Express Media personnel

by Reporters Without Borders | Reporters Without Borders
Tuesday, 1 April 2014 05:48 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Express Media employees have again been the target of violence, this time in the eastern city of Lahore on 28 March, when shots were fired at a car carrying the journalist Raza Rumi, killing his driver and injuring his bodyguard. Rumi was not hurt.

"We are shocked by this latest attack on media personnel, which seems to have been designed to eliminate a critic of the Taliban," said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk.

"Express Media's employees are paying with their lives for their commitment to media pluralism at a time when radical groups stop at nothing in an attempt to impose silence. It is high time the authorities implemented concrete measures to protect working journalists and arrest those responsible for these attacks, so that they cease to act with complete impunity."

Rumi has just left the Express Television bureau in Lahore in order to go home when unidentified gunmen opened fire on his car near the Raja market, killing his driver, Mustafa, and injuring his bodyguard, who was able to call for help.

A journalist with the liberal weekly The Friday Times, Rumi recently began hosting a political news programme called "Khabar Se Agay" (Beyond the News) for Express News TV. He said he had not received any direct threats but knew he was on the extremists' list of people to be killed.

This was the fifth attack on the Express Media group since last August. An explosive device was defused outside the Express News TV bureau chief's home in Peshawar two weeks ago. Three Express News TV employees were shot dead in Karachi in January. And various Express Media buildings in Karachi were the targets of attacks in August and December 2013.

These attacks were claimed by the Islamist militant group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which is waging a campaign to silence its media critics.

On 19 March, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced the creation of a commission to examine measures that could be taken to protect journalists.

Ranked 158th out of 180 countries in the latest Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, Pakistan is one of the world's deadliest countries for journalists, with a total of seven killed in 2013.