They Are After The Free Media!
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Although Martin Niemöller used the above mentioned lines at a time when atrocities were on the rise in Nazi Germany, we may not get a different result if we apply them on the situation of our media groups. By coinciding it with the situation of the media groups I’m relating it to the attack on Mr. Raza Rumi’s car on March, 28, 2014. I hastily picked up the remote and turned to my TV. Unfortunately our media groups, particularly the private TV channels, did not break the news when Mr. Raza Rumi was attacked in the beginning. Later on they ran tickers about the attack, stating: “A private TV channel’s anchor person has come under attack.” After that, I came across the sad demise of his driver Mustafa, on Express News. Mr. Raza Rumi and his body guard had narrowly survived in the ugly attack.
What saddened me more than anything was to know that no one came forward to assist Mr. Raza Rumi after he solicited help on a busy road. He mentioned this in his article, titled: “Escaping death in the land of the pure.” Again, it reminded me of what Martin Niemöller said ; it was an attack on a journalist, not on those who did not stop their cars to help a man who has been been speaking his heart out via his pen for years
— But what if the same people who didn’t stop to help Raza come under attack? Who will be there to help them out and speak on their behalf?
Since the New Year’s start, Express Media Group has come under attack three times. The first one on January 17, 2014, in Karachi when three staff members : Technician Waqas, Driver Khalid and Guard Ashraf were brutally killed by unknown assailant in their DSNG van. After the attack, as usual the government vowed to bring the perpetrators to book, and also ensured the Express Media Group employees that it would provide security to them. But, in spite of these assurances, the Express Media Group again came under attack on March 19, 2014, when a bomb was defused outside the residence of its News Bureau chief in Peshawar. The third and most lethal attack took place on Mr. Raza Rumi. This explicitly puts on view the inefficiency and negligence of the government towards the attacks on the Express Media Group. The government again used the words ‘assurance and security’ which have become catchprases in Pakistan everytime terrorist attacks are discussed. The truth, however, is simple : The government has failed to provide security to journalists.
While the Committee to Protect Journalists (C.P.J) described Pakistan as the “epicenter of attacks on the press” in 2013, during the same year the Express Media Group came under attack two more times. Firstly, on August 16, 2013, the militants indiscriminately sprayed the Express Media Group office with bullets, which killed two of its staff members, including a Guard. The second time on December 2, 2013, when militants again fired at the Express Media Group office not only with bullets but also with hand grenades. This critically injured three male staff members.
When I went through the 29-page fatwa issued by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) some time back, I noticed that it contained the names of two dozens journalists and publishers, including the media group owners, the news heads of various TV channels, prominent anchors and the editor of a leading English language newspaper. So far, the Express Media Group is their prime target. What is surprisingly is the fact that prominent TV channels used the term “Niji” (private) for the Express Media Group’s widely known anchor-cum-columnist Mr. Raza Rumi when he came under attack.
If today militants have singled out the Express Media Group, then tomorrow they may single out the other media groups too,particularly the TV channels, which sadly were only condemning the attacks on the Express Media Group by virtue of ratings and competition. If this continues, we may not have a voice that will speak out against militants who are targeting the free media.
The author is a freelance journalist and researcher based in Quetta. He blogs athttp://www.akbarnotezai.wordpress.com and tweets as @Akbar_notezai (twitter.com/Akbar_notezai)