December 2013 Media Review

Police described it as “cracker bomb attack” on Express Media group’s offices in Karachi on December 2 but its effects were felt widely among the journalist community wondering which group has carried it out and why.
It did not take longer to know who was behind the attack. Banned militant group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed the responsibility three days later. However, the police is still clueless why Express Group is targeted and different reasons are cited but no concrete evidence.
December was comparatively calm, otherwise, except that activists of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf thrashed an office-bearer of Karachi Press Club and that a court in Shikarpur district of Sindh province could not hold hearing of murder case involving Geo News channel reporter Wali Khan Babar.
The attack on Express Group’s offices in Karachi has been chilling for many reasons. Its English-language Express Tribune (ET) is seen as new addition to the list of liberal newspapers in Pakistan and ET does extensive reporting on issues of religious minorities and freedom of expression and freedom of press.
Four months back, the media group’s offices were attacked also. As no conclusive evidence police discovered while investigating the first attack the probe into the second attack appears to have made no significant headway except that different aspects of the attack were considered.
The issue of impunity of crimes against media in Pakistan has grown dangerously. No single murder case involving journalists or attacks on media houses have ever been taken to logical conclusion and this attitude, experts believe, is encouraging more attacks on journalists and media.
Wali Khan Babar’s case is good example to portray the Pakistani state’s dismal record to put an end to these attacks on the media and media-practioners. The authorities in Karachi moved the trial of Geo News to another city on security ground. The trial is not progressing for one reason or another. It underlines the power of forces attacking journalists and media in Pakistan.
No arrest is made so far in murder case of reporter Ayub Khattak and his son Shamsur Rehman told Freedom Network [FN] a Peshawar on December 30 that the alleged perpetrators of the crime were not threatening the family to stay away from pursuing any legal battle. “Now I am warned to stay silent, otherwise, my fate will not be different from my father,” he said while expressing concern that the government had not extended any helping hand so far.
It is well over two and half months that Dargai-based reporter Zaib Mansoor is taken away by military intelligence on October 14 for “suspicious call.” His colleagues say the reporter is still missing.
Similarly, Royal TV reporter Farhan Ahmed Bangash is still behind the bars after police in Kohat district charged him on seven counts, including terrorism, claiming that the journalist was allegedly involved in November 18 sectarian violence in Kohat city. The journalist denies the charges.
December timelines
Dec 02: Cracker attack on Express Group offices in Karachi. Three injured
Dec 05: TTP claims responsibility for the attack on Express Group offices in Karachi on Dec 2
Dec 17: Activists of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party thrash Shams Keerio, joint secretary of Karachi Press Club
Dec 22: A court in Shikarpur (Sindh province) adjourns reporter Wali Khan Babar’s murder case to January 4, 2014

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