The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) reiterates its serious concerns towards safety of journalists in Pakistan after the senior leader of the IFJ affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), had shots fired at his home this week.
Unidentified people fired shots at the home of Rana Mohammad Azeem, the Lahore-based president of the PFUJ, on September 16 in a move he believes was intended to intimidate and silence him. The PFUJ said this was the second time in a week that shots have been fired. No one was hurt in either incident.
Rana Azeem said: “By the grace of god, I’m safe. The incidents seem to be part of a series of threats and attacks on the journalists in Pakistan.”
The incidents have been reported to the police but no one has been arrested yet.
The IFJ and the PFUJ strongly condemn the attack and urge the government to investigate the case and punish the culprits. The IFJ also urges the government of Pakistan to ensure it is abiding by its state obligations to protect members of the public against vigilante attacks, including journalists.
Incidents of threats and attacks on the journalists have increased in recent times as Pakistan’s key opposition parties intensify demonstrations against the government. During recent protests many journalists, media staff and media houses came under attack from both the state and opposition. The PFUJ has also been demonstrating and organizing protests against these attacks.
These are not the first attacks or threats on Rana Azeem’s life.
He has been regularly threatened particularly because of his works with PFUJ, most recently in January 24, 2014.
The IFJ Asia Pacific acting director, Jane Worthington, said: “The incident is yet another attempt to intimidate the senior leadership of PFUJ which has been on the forefront in condemning attacks by both state and non-state parties on journalists and working to improve the overall safety and security situation for journalists.”
The IFJ added: “We strongly condemn the incidents and urge the Pakistan government to probe into the cases and be serious on the safety and security of journalists. The IFJ wishes to remind the Pakistan government that it’s the state’s duty to protect journalists and their rights.”