ISLAMABAD: The Senate was told Friday as many as 42 journalists were murdered in the country during the last four years, while only one of 55 nominated accused was convicted.
During the Question-Hour, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Murtaza Javed Abbasi explained 15 of those were killed in Punjab, 11 in Sindh, 13 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 3 in Balochistan.
To a question, he conceded it was a critical situation and the government should take prompt action against the culprits and journalists should be provided special security. He contended that the Ministry of Interior should prepare a consolidated report on the matter and present it to the House within two months.
According to the data shared with the House, out of 26 accused in Punjab, seven were arrested, two were bailed out, five were under trial, eight were either not arrested or escaped, one accused was released by a court, whereas three were killed in a police encounter. Likewise, among 11 accused in Sindh, four were arrested and seven were facing trial.
Similarly, the number of accused in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was 13. Out of them, two were acquitted, four were under trial and one could not be arrested. The data also shows six miscellaneous cases, including the case of a journalist shot dead by his brother and an untraced case of terrorism.
Out of the total five accused of such cases in Balochistan, one was under trial and another under police investigation. One of the accused from the province has been convicted, and this was the only conviction in such cases across the country over four years.
JI Senator Mushtaq Ahmad rose to regret that those who attacked journalists were not arrested and believed if it had been done, Arshad Sharif would never have been murdered.
Balochistan Awami Party’s Senator Danesh Kumar questioned the authenticity of figures and claimed that more than 10 journalists had been murdered in Balochistan against three mentioned in this report.
The minister rose to clarify this report was compiled after a thorough consultation with all the quarters concerned of the provinces. However, if someone had shared a wrong figure, he must be held accountable as it was a sensitive matter.
Senator Kamran Murtaza of JUI-Fazl proposed a probe into the subject the killed journalists were actively working prior to losing their lives. “This will make clear the reasons for low convictions and arrests,” he added.
The House was also told that no policy had been issued by the government under which Nadra could issue CNICs to any Afghan national unless they obtained citizenship through a formal procedure.
The Senate was informed a modified PC-I of Pakistan Railways ML-I has been approved by Ecnec at the cost of $9.8 billion on October 31, 2022. The National Development Reform Commission (NDRC) and National Railways Administration of China (NRA) have been requested to hold an early Joint Financing meeting with Pakistan counterparts for resolution of all pending issues. The issues include finalisation of loan terms, consideration of loan interest rate on special concessional terms, tendering for Package-I and intra-package adjustment and time line for finalisation of commercial contract.