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Wednesday November 30, 2022

Safety of journalists

January 29, 2022

In the first month of the new year, the journalist community across the country has had to record its protest against the brutal murder of fellow journalist Hasnain Shah. According to reports, Shah, a crime reporter affiliated with a private TV channel, was shot dead by unidentified motorcyclists in front of the Lahore Press Club earlier this week.

I have a long association with the journalistic community and I always consider it an honour to participate in their moments of joys and sorrows. Personally, I am deeply saddened by this tragic incident and I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to the family of the slain journalist.

The news of the murder of a journalist in broad daylight outside the press club spread like wildfire in journalistic circles, causing great anxiety to everyone. They have started to feel very insecure after this incident.

All local journalists bodies as well as international organisations, including Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the International Federation of Journalists, have condemned the incident.

I have a clear position that freedom of expression is a fundamental right of every person living in a democratic society. Today in the digital era of the 21st century, killing journalists for hiding truth is a very condemnable step. In every society, journalists are ranked among those few people whose views are highly regarded in the eyes of the public.

In the global scenario, all the prosperous, independent, democratic, and human rights upholding countries have one thing in common: the presence of an independent and vibrant media. Similarly, all those countries that are facing poverty, anarchy, exploitation, and violation of human rights, have restricted freedom of expression.

Pakistan came into existence as a result of a democratic struggle. Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah categorically assured that there would be freedom of expression in Pakistan. He was a strong advocate of using the power of the pen to bring positive change in society. Article 19 of our constitution also ensures that every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, and there shall be freedom of the press.

What a pity that today, after seven decades of independence, journalists across the country are working in a sense of insecurity. Although our society is overall peace-loving and tolerant, there are also a few anti-social elements. Whenever and wherever they want, they successfully pursue their agenda to achieve their nefarious aims and in response, the entire Pakistani nation is discredited in the eyes of the international community.

In this regard, I would like to appeal to the state institutions of the country, especially the Supreme Court of Pakistan, to take notice of the recent murder of journalist in front of the Lahore Press Club to provide justice to the family.

Expressing solidarity with the journalist community, I also would like to assure them that they will always find me by their side in their struggle for the betterment of society.

The writer is a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council. He tweets @RVankwani

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