Bajaur journalists receive threats from militants

BAJAUR AGENCY –  Frequent threats to media persons from militants groups have triggered fear and panic among the journalist community in Bajaur Agency. A number of journalists in Bajaur Agency, working with different national and international media organisations have said that they have received threats from different banned militant groups living in Afghanistan over their professional activities during the last several months.

Irfanullah Jan, a senior journalist who has been working with a US-based radio and a national newspaper for over 15 years told that he has continuously been receiving threatening phone calls and text messages from different outlawed militant organisations that were using Afghanistan-based cellular network SIMs.

He said he knew well the principles of journalism and always tried to balance his reporting by mentioning viewpoints and opinions of all stakeholders, but he does not know why the militants were threatening him.  “I am a professional and responsible journalist and know better about my work thus I always put viewpoints and comments of every concerned people in any report especially militancy related, but I do not know why these elements are threatening me,” he added.

He told that frequent threats from the militants showed that they are not satisfied with his balanced reporting and wanted to pressurise him.

However, Jan told that he was not afraid of such threats and will never compromise on his commitment to inform the listeners and readers about the facts.

Several others journalists in Bajaur Agency including Anwarullah Khan, Muhammad Tahir and cameraman Israruddin have also been threatened by militants owing to not highlighting the militants’ viewpoints and comments in their reporting during the last several months.

Anwar, who has been working with a number of national news organisations as a correspondent for over 16 years, told that the militants have been threatening him since along owing to his work.  He said that he had covered almost all issues in the agency, including education, women, health, and development activities besides militancy and war on terrorism.He said that though the threats have triggered a little bit of fear and panic among the journalist, but such threats will not affect the work of journalists in the agency.

He disclosed that he and Irfan have faced some serious threats and problems in their professional activities from the militants in 2008 when they issued a fatwa against them.

“That was a very hard and tough time for us when the militants had issued fatwa against us in which they sentenced us to death, but we did not surrender to them and continued our jobs with the same courage and commitment,” he added.

According to the journalist, in the past they were threatened by outlawed TTP and other local militants, but now they are receiving threatening calls and messages from the fighters of militants groups who had been hiding across the border in Afghanistan’s Kunar province.

However, the journalists were optimistic that such threats from the militants would end as they were committed and devoted to their profession.

The Nation