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In Pakistan, big perks and big risks to being a journalist

A bomb was found under the car of prominent journalist Hamid Mir, highlighting the difficulties facing journalists in Pakistan.

By Correspondent / November 27, 2012

Senior journalist for the Geo News television station Hamid Mir points to his car where a bomb was found underneath, in Islamabad, Nov. 26. A bomb was found on Monday under the car of Mir, who the Taliban had threatened over his coverage of a schoolgirl the militants shot, his employer said.

Sohail Shahzad/Reuters

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Islamabad, Pakistan

Hamid Mir, a prominent Pakistani journalist known for being antigovernment and antimilitary, escaped an assassination attempt yesterday when a bomb planted under his car failed to explode.

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“It is a message to me … and the journalist community,” Mr. Mir said on air to Geo News, where he works.  

That message is clear: You’re reporting something we don’t want you to report.

Although he received threats from the Taliban, who claimed responsibility for the death threat because he spoke against the group's attack last month on 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai, many within the journalist community here believe it was Mir’s criticism of the Pakistani military that may have made him a target.

“These are dirty tricks orchestrated by the security agencies,” says Matiullah Jan, who hosts a daily television show for Waqt News in Islamabad on media accountability. “When they cannot pay [bribe] someone, they attack the journalists. There are many journalists who are mouthpieces of [the security] establishment. There is obvious corruption.”

Mr. Jan was himself attacked a few years ago and suspects Pakistan intelligence agencies were behind it.

“I was doing a story on the chief of ISI then – Gen. Pasha and a military trial wrongly conducted under his watch – and that is when I was attacked by a brick that hit my car while I was driving in Islamabad,” Jan says.

Pakistan was ranked as the second most dangerous country in the world for journalists this year in a report released by the United Nations. And the Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent international body to defend press freedom, ranked Pakistan as the most dangerous country in both 2010 and 2011.

More than 90 Pakistani journalists have been killed in Pakistan since 2000, and none of the cases have been solved. Journalists say they face threats not only from terrorists, but also from the powerful military establishment.

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