Rezaul H Laskar
Islamabad, Jan 2 (PTI) The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists has described 2010 as one of the worst years in the country''s history as 19 media persons lost their lives in floods, targeted killings, bomb blasts and suicide attacks during the period.

PFUJ contended the number of media persons who died in such incidents was the highest in the world.

The past year also witnessed the "record retrenchments of over 1,500 media-related employees", including 850 of the electronic and print media "without any legal formalities and payment of legitimate dues", it said in a statement.

Media houses had not taken any measures for the safety and training of their employees despite the "heavy casualties" during the performance of professional assignments, PFUJ said.

Media organisations had also failed to provide insurance to employees working in hostile environments, it added.

The year 2010 proved "deadly" for media practitioners as they were "callously deprived by media owners of legitimate and fair wages, job security, life insurance, training (and) capacity building while they were increasingly targeted by terrorists and pressure groups".

"A review of the year suggested that like the preceding years, from 1996 onwards, media persons were continuously denied their legitimate benefits by the owners, including a conducive working environment, security of job, wages under a government announced wage board and an unbiased gender policy, and the contract system introduced in media organisations by the media owners...was not abolished," the statement said.

According to PFUJ, there was no protection of life and media persons continued to work under stress.

Besides the 19 who lost their lives in 2010, at least 327 media persons were "wounded, tortured and extended threats by government agencies in Balochistan".

Over 238 media persons were implicated in criminal cases, the statement said.

None of the killers of media practitioners killed after 9/11 were brought to justice so far and this has aggravated the miseries of their families, PFUJ said.

"The situation in Balochistan province and tribal belts of Khyber Pakhtunkhawa is very volatile for media practitioners and a still more painful aspect of the same is that in both areas which are ridden by insurgency for almost over a decade, 99 per cent of media practitioners are neither regularly paid employees nor they are being provided any training for safety in the wake of reporting," said Shamsul Islam Naz, secretary general of PFUJ.