Thirteen journalists killed in the past 13 months. The world’s deadliest country for media personnel in 2010, with 11 killed, Pakistan continues to be one of the most dangerous in 2011. As well as being very badly paid, its journalists are exposed to every kind of danger.
With its tribal northwest, its border with Afghanistan, its tension with India and its chaotic political history, Pakistan is one of the world’s most complex nations and its journalists confront a daunting array of problems that include terrorist threats, police violence, the unbridled power of local potentates and dangerous conflicts in the Tribal Areas.
The Pakistani media are still young and often inexperienced. Due to a lack of resources and ignorance of protective mechanisms, news media often send their reporters out on the most dangerous assignments without any kind of safety net. At the same time, the authorities have little consideration for a profession that keeps on raising awkward issues.
Inadequate laws and a shaky constitution mean that media freedom is not yet fully recognized. Not to speak of all the subjects that are very dangerous to cover. It is easy to sue journalists over what they report and easier still to force them to shut up.
Four interviews with Pakistani journalists shed light on these difficulties and on the uphill battle to establish professional journalism in Pakistan.