It is not the first time media houses have come under attack. It is not the first time responsibility will most likely not be determined. It is not the first time those who bring you the news have felt a sense of fatigue and despair. It is not the first time we wonder not if, but when this will happen again. It’s just one time out of many. Next time we may not be so lucky.
The staff of Nawa-i-Waqt, The Nation and Waqt News will continue to exercise their best professional judgement and function in the face of real and serious threats. But we have mourned the loss of more than one of our colleagues in the past. And we live in the ever-present dread of having to do so again.
The provision of security by government to media houses is no guarantee of safety. If not our offices, our staff are at risk in the course of their day-to-day duties. What safety is there in an armoured car at a gate? Will every journalist pursue a story with an armed escort? Is the state equipped to shadow every reporter, DSNG operator and cameraman on assignment, and ensure they are safe from harm? Of course not.
The answer lies not in the provision of temporary and extraordinary security to those under threat, but in the removal of those dangers that hang over not just journalists, but polio workers, business owners and ordinary citizens at every step in their daily lives. And this is the question to pose to those in power. Can we expect things to change? Or are we just meant to be grateful no one was hurt, and get on with life. Until the next time. Because unfortunately – if there’s one guarantee - it is that there will be a next time.