Monday for the launch of the Editors for Safety’s “Pakistan Journalists Memorial” website to commemorate media professionals who lost their lives in the line of fire.
Editors for Safety (EfS) is a network of Pakistani editors that is focused on highlighting acts of violence against the media.
Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) serves as the secretariat for the initiative. EfS Chairman and Dawn Editor Zaffar Abbas reiterated that the motto of the initiative was that an attack on one media house or journalist would be considered an attack on all.
Abbas said that there used to be a culture in the Pakistani media not to name other media networks and so if a journalist from one institution was killed or attacked, other publications would cover it without naming said institution.
He said that this created a situation where such attacks were not having an impact. In 2015, a group of editors met and discussed the matter.
The journalists memorial is an initiative of the EfS and currently provides details of the cases of 76 media personnel killed in Pakistan since 2002 in connection with their work.
Abbas said that in the majority of these cases, the perpetrators of these attacks had not been caught.
“This is the culture of impunity we need to end,” he said, adding that governments need to be reminded that it is their responsibility to do so.
Owais Aslam Ali, Secretary General of PPF, and Secretary of EfS, said while physical attacks against the media continue, digital threats are also growing. He cautioned that these digital threats can then lead to physical attacks on the media.
He added that alongside the physical attacks and digital threats, the state level push to restrict the media to what the government is saying and efforts to suppress media via restricting advertisements and such constraints are trends Pakistan is observing yesterday.
Ali noted that a positive trend that has emerged in Pakistan is that media organisations and bodies have accepted their responsibility for safety.
He said that one of the successes of the EfS has been the emergence of a collective voice of concern when a journalist faces an attack.
Moving ahead, he hoped journalists from smaller cities and publications would also get the same support as more centrally located ones.
Addressing the event, Jabbar Khattak, Chief Editor of Awami Awaz, welcomed the creation of this website and emphasised the need for such a database.
Dawn.com Editor Jahanzaib Haque provided a runthrough of the website that is now live and includes various filters to search through the information including search results based on location, designation of a slain journalist, year of their death or organisation they were associated with.