Top Pakistan TV anchors sent death threats for condemning Malala attack
October 17, 2012 3 Comments
Two top Pakistan TV anchors have been sent death threats by the Taliban for publicly condemning last week’s attack on schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai.
Hamid Mir, of Geo News TV and ARY News, and his colleague Aamir Liaquat Hussain were declared “enemies of Islam” by a Taliban spokesperson, who ordered attacks on the two television channels’ offices.
Yousafzai, a renowned campaigner for girls’ education in Pakistan, was shot in the head on her way home from school.
The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack and told the BBC that she was targeted because she “promoted secularism”
“Taliban spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan sent two long statements to the Pakistani media in the last two days, in which he criticised my and my colleague Aamir Liaquat Hussain in very strong words, and declared us enemies of Islam,” said Mir, who interviewed Yousafzai for the first time on his television show ‘Capital Talk’ in 2009.
He said that the Taliban leadership based in North Waziristan has ordered its Tariq Brigade to “eliminate Hamid Mir”, according a letter sent by the National Crises Management Cell (NCMC) of the Interior Ministry to provincial governments in Pakistan.
Media quick to react
Pakistan media were quick to react to last week’s shooting. The story was headline news on most Pakistan TV channels immediately after the news broke.
“The Taliban are angry with me because I said in my TV show that all those who attacked a 14 year old girl are cowards.
“I also criticised the government for not taking any actions for the protection of Malala,” said Mir.
He tweeted immediately after the attack: “No one has the right to attack a school girl just because of political differences. The attackers give Islam a bad name,”
One million dollar bounty
Interior Minister Rehman Malik announced a bounty of one million US dollars for the arrest of Ehsanullah Ehsan yesterday.
“I am personally not satisfied with this announcement,” said Mir.
“Ehsanullah Ehsan is sending emails and SMS [text] messages, calling on our mobile phones, but no intelligence agency has intercepted him so far.
“The Interior Ministry is only writing letters to different provincial governments, but is not doing anything to arrest the culprits.
“I demand that the government must provide security to all the TV channels and anchors receiving threats from the Taliban,” he added.
Pakistan is a notorious dangerous place for journalists to work. The International News Safety Institute has recorded the deaths of 5 journalists this year.
Pressure from both terrorist groups and state-run intelligence agencies means that many journalists are forced to quit their jobs and leave their homes in a bid to save their lives.
BBC journalist M Ilyas Khan told the BBC last Wednesday that “no place in Pakistan is safe for people targeted by militant groups.”