The International Press Institute (IPI) today called for greater action to protect journalists’ safety in Pakistan after a TV news employee was killed in Karachi after militants opened fire on a news van in which he was traveling.
Local media reported that motorcycle-borne assailants attacked the Digital Satellite News Gathering (DSNG) van while it was heading to the neighbourhood of North Nazimabad to cover an alleged attack on an armoured police vehicle.
Samaa TV assistant-cameraman Taimoor Khan, 22, was struck in the head and chest. He was rushed to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds.
Multiple government officials have condemned the attack, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who called it an “attack on the freedom of speech”.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant group claimed responsibility for the attack. In a statement, TTP spokesperson Mohammad Khorasani said: “The media is not impartial and we’ve issued several warnings to them.”
Pakistani journalist Owais Aslam Ali, a member of IPI’s Executive Board and the secretary general of the Pakistan Press Foundation, lamented the fact that “such horrific acts are committed with regularity every few months”.
He added: “There have been a number of similar attacks on DSNG vans of television channels but hardly any action has been taken by the government or media organisations to make live field coverage safer for media professionals. The media has been left to the mercy of militants and terrorists who attack whenever they want to and escape.”
Sunday’s attack was the latest in a series of recent attacks on DSNG vans. A Geo TV van was vandalised in 2016 during a demonstration, while shots were fired at a Dawn News van in 2015, injuring one of the crew.
Ali argued that it was “high time that media organisations and the government realise how dire the situation is and develop protocols on all aspects of media coverage, especially live coverage of crime and violence”.
Khan is the first media worker known to have been killed this year in Pakistan, a country that is notoriously unsafe for journalists. According to IPI’s Death Watch, at least 48 journalists have lost their lives in the country in connection with their work since 2010.
IPI Director of Advocacy and Communications Steven M. Ellis echoed Ali’s comments and called on the Pakistani government to bring Khan’s murderers to justice.
“Greater efforts need to be made to end such barbaric attacks on journalists and to ensure that assailants do not enjoy impunity that allows them to kill again,” he said.