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Another courageous casualty in Pakistan, journalism's most dangerous country

Murtaza Razvi, an editor at one of Pakistan's leading English newspapers, was murdered in Karachi yesterday. He was one of many journalists I met on a recent trip who have refused to give up their work despite threats.

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He was found in an apartment in Karachi, evidently tortured and strangled. The reasons for his death aren't clear at this point. He came from a Shiite family but was not religious. Friends and acquaintances point out that his liberal views and lifestyle may have ruffled feathers. And his last article was about how India-Pakistan peace would be good for neutralizing hawks inside and outside the military. You could call that a rather sensitive topic.

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Jenna Fisher is the Monitor's former Asia editor, overseeing regional coverage for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine from 2010 through 2013.

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Before I left for Pakistan a few weeks ago I had an inclination of the government's game of “smoke and mirrors,” and the physical dangers that reporters faced there. While I was there, I was given this very safe look at Pakistan, its high security, great food, and conversation with very smart entrepreneurs and journalists fighting to raise important issues. One week after my return a journalist whom I met and talked with is now dead. And I wonder: What is media freedom without protection?  

Pakistani reporters will continue to report despite dangers. They'll watch how they mention the Taliban, the political parties, and ISI. Sometimes they'll be bullied into softening the edges of their reports. But mostly they'll press on. The hope is that their work, in life and in death, bring home the scale of complexity and challenges that Pakistan has yet to overcome. 

Pete Hamill sums it up in his book “News is a Verb."

 “They knew that only part of the truth could be discovered in the safe offices in Washington, D.C.; they had to witness the dark truths by getting down in the mud with the grunts. They died because they believed in the fundamental social need for what they did with a pen, a notebook, a typewriter, or a camera. They didn’t die to increase profits for the stockholders. They didn’t die to obtain an invitation to some White House dinner for a social-climbing publisher. They died for us. … They died to bring us the truth.”

He was writing for the Vietnam-era journalist, but it certainly applies to the passion and commitment of journalists in Pakistan who live, and die, for their efforts to uncover truth today.

Asia editor Jenna Fisher and five other US journalists recently traveled to Pakistan as part of an exchange program coordinated by the East-West Center, which concurrently sent nine Pakistani journalists to the United States. For more information, visit: www.eastwestcenter.org.

 Follow Jenna on Twitter @AsiaJenna

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