Posts Tagged ‘Pakistan’

Pakistan breaks up plan to free Daniel Pearl’s killer

The Pakistan military reported Friday (2/12) it had arrested 97 militants who plotting a series of attacks that included freeing the killer of journalist Daniel Pearl. Three extremist groups, including al Qaeda, were working together on the plan.

The BBC reported the plan included six suicide bombers and was close to being carried out.

Pearl, a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, was working on ties between the Pakistan government and extreme Islamic groups when he was kidnapped and later beheaded.

Other articles:

Following his murder, Daniel Pearl’s family established the Daniel Pearl Foundation to

continue Danny’s mission and to address the root causes of this tragedy, in the spirit, style, and principles that shaped Danny’s work and character.

These principles include uncompromised objectivity and integrity; insightful and unconventional perspective; tolerance and respect for people of all cultures; unshaken belief in the effectiveness of education and communication; and the love of music, humor, and friendship.

One of the most visible activities is Daniel Pearl World Music Days. These events celebrate Pearl’s love of music and the ability of music to draw people together.



2015: Another dangerous year for journalists

The Committee to Protect Journalists reports:

Syria, France most deadly countries for the press

Of 69 journalists killed for their work in 2015, 40 percent died at the hands of Islamic militant groups such as Al-Qaeda and Islamic State. More than two-thirds of the total killed were singled out for murder.

Worldwide, 69 journalists were killed in the line of duty—including those murdered in reprisal for their work as well as those killed in combat or crossfire or on other dangerous assignments. The total, which includes journalists killed between January 1 and December 23, 2015, is higher than the 61 journalists killed in 2014. CPJ is investigating the deaths of at least 26 more journalists during the year to determine whether they were work-related.

Unlike in the past three years, the deaths were widely distributed across countries. At least five journalists were killed in each Iraq, Brazil, Bangladesh, South Sudan, and Yemen.

List of journalists killed in 2015.

Here is the CPJ list of deadliest places to be a journalist:

Deadliest Countries in 2015

  1. Syria: 13
  2. France: 9
  3. Brazil: 6
  4. Yemen: 5
  5. South Sudan: 5
  6. Iraq: 5
  7. Bangladesh: 5
  1. Mexico: 4
  2. Somalia: 3
  3. USA: 2
  4. Turkey: 2
  5. Kenya: 1
  6. Ukraine: 1
  7. Pakistan: 1
  1. Colombia: 1
  2. Libya: 1
  3. Poland: 1
  4. Ghana: 1
  5. India: 1
  6. Guatemala: 1

Expect more “surprises” unless reporting picks up

First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World

Observers are shocked about how young lawyers in Pakistan are rallying behind the accused murderer of the governor of Punjab province Salman Taseer, who was an outspoken proponent of liberalism.

The lawyers were once held up as the potential leaders of a liberal democratic Pakistan when they stood up to the dictatorship a couple of years ago. And now they are supporting a man who objected to political liberalism and who was a conservative Islamic fundamentalist.

What happened and why does it matter?

The New York Times has a great article discussing this issue: Pakistan Faces a Divide of Age on Muslim Law.

One paragraph summed up the problem for the United States:

Washington has poured billions of dollars into the Pakistani military to combat terrorism, but has long neglected a civilian effort to counter the inexorable pull of conservative Islam. By now the conservatives have entered nearly every part of Pakistani society, even the rank-and-file security forces, as the assassination showed.

For all the foreign aid the United States has handed out since the days of the Marshall Plan 65 years ago, very little thought has been given to “civilian” efforts of building democratic institutions — including free and independent media.

There was always money — granted, a limited amount — available through the U.S. Information Agency to sponsor study tours and international leadership exchanges. But within government circles few saw the value in spending money on working at a grassroots level to build democratic institutions such as independent media, community groups or trade unions. But even when USIA financed these types of programs, most in the agency didn’t understand the purpose.

Then things started to change in the 1980s. Say what you will about Ronald Reagan and his foreign policy, it was under his administration that the National Endowment for Democracy was founded.

The NED was the first U.S. financed but private organization dedicated to working to develop democratic institutions in the developing world.

The core groups that receive grants from the NED are the international arms of the Democratic and Republican Parties, the AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Other smaller groups also get one-time grants for specific programs.

In the 1990s the U.S. Agency for International Development also finally got the message that all the development work in the world will not do much to help unless the people are part of the program. And for the people to be part of any national development means the promotion of local groups independent of the national power structure.

By the end of the 20th century, the USAID Democracy & Governance program was running programs that supported community groups and independent media.

The USAID programs paid for U.S. journalists to teach classes around the world in interviewing techniques and production skills. And in the process, the U.S. journalists transmitted their deep-seated belief that media are supposed to be separate and independent from the government.

The U.S. is late to the game of democracy development. And with the budget crisis in the U.S. and no real constituency for international programs (other than the Pentagon), we should expect to see cuts in already limited programs that promote free and independent media.

And the worst part, as I see it, is that even if there were loads more stories about how the U.S. missed opportunities to promote our values of democracy and pluralism, I don’t think it will matter. Too many in Congress have their minds made up that any foreign aid is a waste of time — unless it promotes their particular agenda — and too many Americans just don’t care.

We will continue to be “surprised” by events around the world until we start putting some value in understanding what is going on in the world.

(I still recall when the Solidarity movement erupted in Poland 30 years ago. When a U.S. diplomat was asked why the State Department did not see it coming, he responded: “You expect us to talk to workers?” Fortunately the State Dept. has learned its lesson. Diplomats now reach out to the widest range of sources within a country as possible — the WikiLeaks cables prove that.)

To avoid more “surprises,” the U.S. media need to see that events in the rest of the world affect us. The few news organizations that still have international correspondents should be giving those reporters more time/space to explain how events in far-away lands affect American society, politics or economy.

Even more can be done without foreign correspondents.

  • The U.S. is a nation of immigrants. Every city and town has a community with connections to “the old country.” Maybe more attention needs to be paid to those immigrant communities.
  • I also defy anyone to show me one community in the U.S. that does not have some sort of economic link to another country. (And I don’t mean the local Honda dealership or the Chinese-made products at Wal-Mart.)

E-W Center programs offer exchanges and opportunities for local SPJ chapters

Thanks to SPJ Leads for the heads up of three great programs for journalists to get international experience.

And for those who may not want to or cannot apply for these programs, there are chances to meet the journalists who will be visiting from other countries. It is really not that difficult to get on the itinerary of the visiting journalists. Just contact the East-West Center and see if the visitors will be in your area. Then offer to sponsor a reception, newsroom visit or meeting with the local journalism school.

Minimum work. Maximum benefit.

And who knows, it might even educate a few people that there is a whole big world out there that has direct connections to their little part of the planet.


The East-West Center works to promote better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific through cooperative study, research and dialogue. Journalism fellowships and exchanges for working American and Asia Pacific journalists promote understanding of the complexities of the Asia Pacific region through study tours.

The Center is now accepting applications for the following three programs:

  • Japan-U.S. Journalists Exchange: For Japanese and American journalists. Japanese journalists travel to three cities in the United States; American journalists travel to three cities in Japan.
  • Pakistan-U.S. Journalists Exchange: For Pakistani and American journalists. Pakistani journalists travel to the United States; American journalists travel to Pakistan. All journalists meet at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii for dialogue sessions before and after the program.
  • Senior Journalists Seminar: For Asian journalists (from select countries) and American journalists; Asian journalists travel to three cities in the United States; American journalists travel to two or three cities in Asia; to enhance understanding between the United States and the Asian Muslim world.

First posted at DC SPJ

South Asia dangerous to independent journalists

Journalists in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have freedoms few in the region can enjoy. And at the same time, the threats to their lives is ever-present.

Mustafa Qadri reports in the Sunday Guardian (In south Asia, independent journalism is a real risk) that journalists are heavily restricted from independently reporting India’s continued crackdown on Kashmiri independence protests. And that journalists in Pakistan face greater threats. Earlier this month journalist and activist Abdul Hameed Hayatan was found dead in Balochistan after being kidnapped in October.

In September Umar Cheema was kidnapped by what appeared to be a police patrol while driving home in Islamabad.

“They stripped me naked and tortured me,” he recalled. Tied upside down, Cheema was badly beaten and had his eyebrows, moustache and hair shaved in a six-hour ordeal after which he was thrown on to a highway some 125 kilometres from his home in Islamabad.

Cheema realised his captors were in part of Pakistan’s secretive intelligence agencies. His transgression — in their eyes — was not the usual issue of military atrocities but rather its incompetence in prosecuting persons accused of killing army personnel.

Cheema had earlier faced the wrath of the army when he wrote about two commandos who were court-martialed because they suggested negotiating during a hostage situation in 2007.

Few think anything will get done even as the situation for journalists’ safety worsens.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists no one has been prosecuted for murdering a journalist in Pakistan except in the Daniel Pearl case. Civilian authorities set up a judicial commission to investigate Cheema’s abduction, but it appears to be languishing and there have been no significant investigations of army authorities.

CPJ issues awards

First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World.

Last week the Committee to Protect Journalists held its annual awards dinner in New York City.

Honored for their work in defending free press were Dawit Kebede of Ethiopia, Nadira Isayeva of Russia, Laureano Márquez of Venezuela and Mohammad Davari of Iran.

The organization also released its annual report.

While the CPJ looks at the whole world, its 201o report selected Somalia, Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, Pakistan, Mexico and Azerbaijan for special attention because of the threats to journalism and journalists in those countries.

UPDATE: Watch and learn: U.S. elections through a foreign eye

You never know what you will see.

The Guardian and BBC News have a couple of great pages that help their readers figure out what the U.S. midterm elections mean.


My bad. How could I forget Al Jazeera?

They have a whole section dedicated to the election, including:

Midterm 101

US midterms at a glance

Looking ahead to the next Congress

Campaigning in battleground states

Election trends and bellwethers

What I like:

Al Jazeera has a great Q&A page with such basic questions as “What are the midterms,” and Why are they important to [each party]?” Yes, basic questions but ones that non-Americans ask all the time.

In the Guardian article is a list of what to pay attention to and what not. And when.

1pm (Eastern Time) 5pm (GMT)

With polls finally open in Hawaii, all of America’s registered voters can now stand in a queue outside a school gymnasium or (in Oregon where all voting is done by mail) a post office.

Worth watching: cable TV news speculation on turnout.

Worth ignoring: cable TV news speculation on turnout

The BBC main story cuts right to the chase:

The contest between [Sen. Harry] Reid and Republican candidate Sharron Angle, a Tea Party favourite, is the race to watch on Tuesday night.


For clues, watch the Hispanic turnout across the country – if Latinos are voting in high numbers, that may be good news for Harry Reid

I will be watching the U.S. coverage on CNN International as well as keeping my eyes on the Internet with The PBS NewsHour team and — of course — The Daily Show team.

(Going to be a long night.)

BTW, I also wanted to include some online newspapers and broadcasters from Pakistan, Japan and China. None of them had anything more recent than Monday’s poll numbers and nothing about what to look for in the election results.

I can understand China not wanting to talk about how people can make choices in their elected leadership. But given the concerns of Pakistan media over the Tea Party (Seeing the Tea Party movement with foreign eyes) I would have thought more publications would have looked at the impact this movement might have on the election.

Pakistan: Blocks Facebook but allows militants free reign

First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World.

Thanks to Danny O’Brien at CPJ and his excellent blog, Internet Blotter, for bringing this issue up.

I regularly read the Pakistan publication DAWN but for the business news. (It helps with my regular reporting on the area to know what the local media are saying.) But I missed this little tidbit from earlier this month: Hate on the Internet.

Seems the Pakistani government is worried about YouTube videos of the president telling some one to “shut up” but now worried about sites that “exhort Muslims to rise up against the United States and India.”

To be clear, I am not arguing for increased censorship. I am arguing against all censorship.

Yet it seems the Pakistani government has a two-faced approach to what is good for its people and what is bad. Now this is hardly surprising. But it is disappointing.

Why is Pakistan media quiet about the Kabul Diaries

A look at the deafening silence in Pakistan over the Kabul War Diary WikiLeak issue.

Madiha Sattar, senior assistant editor for The Herald in Karachi, talks about how and why it took so long for ANYTHING to be said in Pakistan about the 90,000 page leak of U.S. government documents about the Afghan war.

Bottom line:

Pakistan simply has too much at home to worry about. Perceptions of the country in the West take a back seat when severe electricity shortages, spiraling food prices and devastating terrorist attacks confront us every day.

Read the full blog entry here: Pakistan’s non-reaction to Wikileaks

First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World.

Pakistan pols learn lesson in freedom of the press

First posted at Journalism, Journalists and the World.

At first the July 16 New York Time story about Pakistani legislators claiming university degrees they never earned seemed like a fun story. One that would provide a small insight into Pakistan’s politics and earn a chuckle or two. (Pakistani Legislators Face Accusations of Faking Their Degrees)

In one case, a member was disqualified by the Supreme Court for holding a fraudulent master’s degree in Islamic studies. In a hearing, the man could not name the first two chapters of the Koran, the newspaper Dawn reported.

But then it became clear that the only reason this issue is being discussed at all is because of the tenacity of the Pakistan press.

[T]he news media have seized on the issue, pressing the case that politicians who did get fake degrees or otherwise misrepresented their educational achievements while the requirement was in force could be tried for fraud or forgery.

The nation’s largest newspaper, Jang, ran front-page articles five days in a row, while “Capital Talk,” its most popular television talk show, featured the topic twice this week.

The agency in charge of the investigation of the validity of the legislators has completed only 183 out of 1,170 cases. It found 37 unnamed violators

According to the NYT, analysts say the delays are an effort to stall the legal process.

The issue is so hot that the the commission took the unusual step of warning its members not to leak information to the media.

And to underscore how sensitive this issue is, in an apparent effort to put pressure on the commission, the brother of the head of the commission was arrested this week on corruption charges.

The penalties of being found guilty of falsely representing their educational credentials could lead to three years in jail for the politicians. They could also be disqualified from running for office for 10 years.

So, the issue is getting the slow-track treatment by the government and politicians are doing all they can to intimidate the investigators event further.

And yet the media continues to keep the issue alive.

And now, here is the kicker…

On July 9, the Punjab Assembly unanimously passed a resolution condemning the news media for “irresponsible propaganda” and demanding that they abstain from “insulting” reports.

But the resolution set off waves of protests by journalists across the country and intensified coverage.(My emphasis.) The Assembly rescinded the resolution four days later, passing another that honored the news media for their role in promoting democracy.

They learned that old rule: “Never get in an argument with someone who buys his ink by the barrel.”

Hopefully the Pakistani people will also appreciate the valuable resource they have in a free and independent news media.


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