Tolerance of extremists detrimental to Pakistan: Daily

January 19th, 2012 - 1:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, Jan 19 (IANS) The Pakistani Taliban killing of a journalist working for an American radio network will have repercussions for the safety of newspersons, said a leading daily that also questioned the “state’s tolerance of extremist groups…”

Dawn said in an editorial Thursday that Pakistani Taliban’s claim that they killed Mohmand Agency newsperson Mukarram Khan Atif adds a serious dimension to the issue of journalists` safety.

While “media persons, especially in the northwest, have often received veiled threats from militants, this is the first time that an extremist group has openly claimed responsibility for the death of a journalist”.

It said that the active targeting of newspersons by the Taliban will have repercussions for the safety of journalists reporting on militancy.

“It will also mean that large parts of the northwest could well become a news blackout zone, with serious consequences particularly in the context of abuses that may never come to light,” the editorial added.

It went on to say that the “state’s tolerance of extremist groups and hard-line religious rhetoric is also detrimental to the war against militancy”.

“…nearly all institutions of the state have a soft corner for religious extremism.

“The same warning applies to terrorism: unless the state sheds its soft spot for religlously motivated extremism this too will grow into an entrenched, even tolerated malaise.”

Pakistan has seen several journalists being killed.

Munir Ahmed Shahkir, a senior journalist with the Waqt News newspaper, was shot several times and rushed to a hospital where he succumbed to injuries Aug 14 last year.

Journalist Saleem Shahzad, 40, was kidnapped in Islamabad May 29 last year. Two days later, his body, bearing marks of severe torture, was found dumped in a canal in Punjab province.

Shahzad is widely believed to have been picked up by intelligence officials for alleging in an article that terrorists attacked a key naval base in Karachi May 22 after the navy refused to free sailors held for suspected militant links.

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