PAKISTAN: Death of Tribune Staffers Underscores Dangers of Reporting

AUSTIN SZABO WRITES –  The deaths of three reporters at the hands of Taliban gunmen Jan. 17 is the latest in a series of terrorist attacks designed to silence anti-Taliban reporting in the afflicted country.

On Friday, a group of gunmen on motorcycles shot into the van of three Express Tribune workers in a Karachi suburb, killing them. It was the third and most tragic strike against the Express Media group, which suffered a less severe attack late last year. While the identities of the attackers were unknown in the immediate aftermath, the local Taliban took responsibility, claiming that the Express Tribune had repeatedly failed to take their point of view into account.

The attack underscores the threat facing Pakistani if its media fails to conform to the Taliban’s version of the truth. Pakistan is an increasingly dangerous place for journalists and affiliated workers, in large cities as much as in the tribal northwest.

The victims Waqas Aziz, Muhammad Khalid, and Mohammad Ashraf, a technician, a driver, and a security guard respectively, were given a tribute in the Tribune.

It is worrisome that the violence against journalists in Pakistan remains endemic. Unfortunately for the Taliban, these terrorist attacks will not silence reporters. Not only have stories about the Taliban continued to pour in, but Nawaz Sharif, the Prime Minister, has also announced measures to help protect media organizations. While the creation of a committee is progress, further attacks are likely to occur in the near future.

Aside from successful peace talks, one solution proposed by the grieving uncle of Ashraf and many Pakistanis, doubtful of any help from the government, is to let the people defend themselves. “We should all be allowed to have guns to protect ourselves. This is the only way we can be safe.”

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