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Under bullet’s shadow: Amnesty International highlights media plight in Pakistan

Just days after fatal assassination bids on Pakistani journalists Hamid Mir and Raza Rumi, the Amnesty International has highlighted the plight of media workers, explaining how they face constant life threat from various groups including the ISI and Taliban.

The Amnesty report titled, “A bullet has been chosen for you”, starts with the mention of Raza Rumi and how he approached the organisation when faced with the threat of being on Taliban’s hit list.

Pakistani TV journalist Raza Rumi in March escaped a life bid on him when his car had to face a volley of bullets that claimed the life of his driver and paralysed his security guard for life.

Amnesty International says in the report that over a hundred journalists have recounted the tales of harassment, abduction, torture and abuse from various perpetrators that include powerful political actors like military intelligence, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) political party.

The perpetrators also include non-sate armed groups like the Tehreek-e-Taliban (the Pakistani Taliban) , Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ) and its associated religious group Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ); al-Qa’ida-linked groups; and ethnic Baloch armed groups, both pro- and anti-state.

Amnesty says it has received credible allegations of the harassment, abduction, torture and killing of journalists, however the government has not been able to take the perpetrators to task in the overwhelming majority of cases investigated by the agency.

The report says at least 34 journalists have been assassinated since democratically-elected government was restored in Pakistan in March 2008 and eight have been killed under Nawaz Sharif government.

Pakistan is notorious for being a dangerous place to work for the journalists who constantly work under the shadow of bullets. According to US-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Pakistan is the fourth most dangerous country in the world for journalists.

Pakistan also fares badly in World Press Freedom Index for 2014 prepared by the Reporters Without Borders, who have placed the country at rank 158 out of 167 countries.

The report comes just days after Geo TV anchor Hamid Mir was attacked by Taliban in Karachi on April 19 this year and is now fighting for his life.

The report highlights how the country’s powerful organisations continue to work with impunity even after the allegations. The latest example came to light when Pakistan’s powerful Army asked a government regulator to shut down Geo TV after the channel alleged that ISI was behind life bid on Hamid Mir.

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