The South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) and the South Asia Media Commission (SAMC) have condemned the suicide attack at the Peshawar Press Club on Tuesday as “outrageous.”
In a joint statement, SAFMA secretary general Imtiaz Alam and SAMC chairman N. Ram said: “The blast, which occurred following a string of threats, is an attempt at undermining independent reporting through coercion.” This attack should be an eye-opener for those who have been apologetic towards such incidents of terrorism, they noted. Referring to the circumstances under which the media functions in the region, they said: “Journalists — especially those in the North-West Frontier Province and tribal areas — face extraordinary risks, difficulties and challenges. There is little room to operate neutrally. Their houses are attacked in retaliation for their reporting. Many other journalists have been forced to flee.”
Besides asking the government to bring the perpetrators of the attack and “predators of media freedom” to task, the SAFMA and SAMC urged media employers to have their staff working in the high-risk zone insured.
“News organisations should equip all staff deployed in hostile environments with training and equipment that meets internationally recognised standards,” they said, lamenting the fact that even full-time staff members of prominent, profit-making news organisations were sent into the field without insurance and protective equipment.