A large crowd protesting against a controversial US-produced film ridiculing the Prophet Mohammed yesterday ransacked and set fire to the Press Club in Wari, in the Upper Dir district of the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, injuring three journalists.
“We condemn such acts of violence against journalists and the premises they use,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The security forces must have an active presence at demonstrations to ensure that they do not turn violent, and must intervene when people are in danger.”
The media freedom organization added : “We are very worried about the ability of journalists to work freely in Pakistan, which offers no safety guarantees for media personnel.”
In yesterday’s attack on the Wari Press Club, Jamil Roghani of the Daily Mashriq, Idress of Khyber News TV and Bahadur Khan of the Daily Wahdat were punched and beaten with sticks by protesters, who ransacked the main building, the record office, computers and other equipment and then set fire to four rooms. The police were just 200 meters away at the time but did not intervene.
In a similar demonstration in the southern business capital of Karachi on September 16, protesters smashed the windows of several TV station trucks.
Pakistan is ranked 151st out of 179 countries in the 2011-2012 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.