But this wasn’t something that had them lining up to find a new job. It was just how things work. Most of the time the person on the other end of the line is bluffing, they said. They had gotten used to the fact that Pakistan was the deadliest country for journalists in 2010 and 2011, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. And killings there have been met with near-perfect impunity throughout the years. For some perspective, consider that there have been 19 unsolved murders of journalists since 2002. (see CPJ’s video)
When you put it that way, having to peer through smoke and mirrors to get to the heart of a story doesn't look so bad.
I visited the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting while I was in Pakistan. The ministry has jurisdiction over the rules and regulations relating to information, broadcasting, and the press. Like many Pakistanis we spoke to on this trip, the minister talked at length about how wonderful it was to have an active, independent, vibrant media that had absolutely no restrictions and how that was contributing to democracy in Pakistan.
However, when we raised the question of safety and reported threats against journalist, Minister of Information Firdous Ashiq Awan (since replaced), without asking for details or pausing to smooth this over, said: “Those are complete fabrications. It never happened. It’s not happening.”
We brought up the famous case of Syad Saleem Shazad, a prominent journalist who went missing after exposing Al Qaeda infiltration of the military. He had been “warned” several times by the ISI for covering sensitive topics, according to his family. He was later found dead. The ISI, was implicated, though it denied involvement.