Journalism

Not being dead is a victory for Balochistan’s journalists

14 September 2014

 

Why, one would ask, is killing the only answer for disagreement?

Why, one would ask, is killing the only answer for disagreement?

 

To say that Pakistani journalists are under attack is an understatement. They are lucky if not assailed or killed.

Beyond the veneer of prime time television shows that many think constitutes ‘journalism’, there are thousands of media workers at risk. They are endangered and pressured by state agencies, political parties, militant networks and mafias, which share a common goal: suppressing information and muzzling those who dare to dig facts.

Comrade Irshad Mastoi and his two colleagues join the ranks of slain journalists who were targeted for their profession; this is unacceptable in a country that is ostensibly governed by a constitution.

I never met Mastoi but followed him on social media and occasionally, we communicated. His views were ‘dangerous;’ and he never refrained from expressing them.

Mastoi was a working journalist for 14 years and before his murder was also the Secretary General of the Balochistan Union of Journalists (BUJ). The killers, who remain at large, shot him dead along with an intern Abdul Rasul and an accountant of the news agency bureau that Mastoi was heading in Quetta. Mastoi was also affiliated with the ARY News and frequently wrote for vernacular and English papers.

That the murderers could enter into a news agency office located in a busy area of Quetta speaks volumes for the impunity with which such attacks are carried out.

Mastoi was 34 and his associate Rasul was a student at the Media and Journalism Department of the University of Balochistan.

What is the message for journalists and those who aspire to adopt this profession?

Pretty dire.

(more…)

Pakistan’s perilous democratic transition

3 September 2014

PTV

Pakistan’s perilous democratic transition has been rocked by the ongoing anti-government protests.

The standoff between the government led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and opposition parties continues to accelerate the political uncertainty and damage the fragile economy.

Sharif was elected 14 months ago in an election that witnessed unprecedented voter turnout.

While most opposition parties accepted the results, Imran Khan — the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek I Insaf (PTI) party — claimed there was widespread rigging. There’s not much evidence, however, beyond the usual irregularities of Pakistan’s outmoded electoral system, to back this up.

But a successful campaign, aided by sections of Pakistani media, to de-legitimize last year’s vote has convinced a large number of people that somehow Khan’s mandate was “stolen” in 2013.

Another opposition group, Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), led by a Pakistani Canadian cleric, Tahir ul Qadri wants a systemic change and has a list of undeliverable promises to the electorate. His immediate grievance is the brutal police action against his supporters that left 14 dead in June of this year. (more…)

Watching the watchdog

27 August 2014

“Democracy is like an infertile woman that cannot produce anything”, thundered a popular columnist (a real opinion-maker) at the Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent in North America (APPNA) convention held in Washington, DC. A few women participants objected, but overall, the trashing of ‘democracy’ back home in Pakistan was applauded by many a successful professionals present in the audience. Later, at another event I heard the view by a speaker that Muslims and democracy are incompatible. These are not isolated sentences. A worldview that Pakistan’s Urdu media has cultivated considers democracy a colonial legacy that the British left. A few go to the extent of arguing that in an Islamic Republic a Caliphate is the only option.

Another columnist recently wrote how our democratic and constitutional system is the “rotten dress which protects certain segments of society” and now the time had come to decide if we could live with an ‘itchy’ body [politic]. Considering that half of Pakistan’s existence has been under the rule of a narrow group of civil-military bureaucracy, it is difficult to argue how can even a most imperfect democracy not be more inclusive? (more…)

The day I’m killed

22 August 2014

Dr Azra Raza – a fearless and sensitive soul – sent me this poem via email.

Travel Tickets

The day I’m killed,
my killer, rifling through my pockets,
will find travel tickets:
One to peace,
one to the fields and the rain,
and one to the conscience of humankind.

Dear killer of mine, I beg you:
Do not stay and waste them.
Take them, use them.
I beg you to travel.

Palestinian Poet, Samih Al Qasim, Translated by A.Z. Foreman

Mustafa

The image is of slain Mustafa – my colleague & a member of my family- who was killed by terrorists while they attacked me in Lahore.

(more…)

On the divided media of Pakistan (Urdu video)

20 July 2014


Raza Rumi on the divided media of Pakistan by razarumi1

Speaking at the launch of UNESCO Press Freedoms Report

13 July 2014

Went to the UN to discuss UNESCO Media Trends report on press freedom & role of free media in global development agenda.


Raza Rumi in UN 1 by razarumi1


Raza Rumi in UN 2 by razarumi1


Raza Rumi in UN 3 Q’s by razarumi1

I am optimistic about the freedom of expression worldwide even if the report sounds pessimistic. The mere fact that UNESCO and the international community are into monitoring and evaluating the status of the freedom of expression is a milestone. He further elaborated on the evolution of the freedom of expression in the US and the role of Universities,” said Professor Bollinger.

These interventions were followed a roundtable discussion on freedom of expression and access to information in the context of shaping the post-2105 development agenda. The roundtable was moderated Mr Joel Simon, Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, with the participation of Karin Karlekar, Freedom House, Director of Freedom of the Press, Veni Markovksi, Vice President of Global Stakeholder Engagement, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN, and Raza Rumi, a public policy specialist and noted writer and editor of several Pakistan media.

Raza Rumi shared with the audience his personal experience as a journalist and activist in Pakistan, where he was the victim of an attack by a Taliban group.

Mr Markovski presented the work of ICANN in helping preserve the operational stability of the Internet. He underlined the essential role of universities in providing people with on the basic knowledge of the internet so that they are educated users who can protect themselves.

http://www.unesco.org/new/en/media-services/single-view/news/united_nations_launch_of_unesco_report_on_world_trends_in_freedom_of_expression/#.U87qW164llI

Pakistan’s journalists under siege – my interview

2 June 2014

Recently I talked with ” ABC news” (Australia) and explained how Journalism is under siege in Pakistan. Here is the audio-link. The transcript of my conversation – an edited version - is also posted below

 

 

MARK COLVIN: Journalists in Pakistan say they’re under increasing threat both from terror groups and the country’s security agencies….

South Asia correspondent Michael Edwards reports.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Journalists are supposed to be on the sidelines, be there to report when bad things happen to people.

RAZA RUMI: Six weeks ago I was attacked in Lahore.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: That’s Raza Rumi, the associate editor of the Friday Times, a man who is one of Pakistan’s  influential and high profile journalists.

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