Late Thursday night, several armed men in plain clothes entered the Karachi Press Club (KPC) and threatened and intimidated journalists present there. According to a statement issued by KPC’s office bearers, the gunmen, who came in with at least six double-cabin vehicles, harassed journalists, searched different rooms, kitchen, the building’s upper floor and the sports hall, and forcibly made videos and took pictures with mobile cameras.

This occurrence has been condemned throughout by the journalist fraternity. The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists has expressed indignation over it and has termed it an attempt to harass the media. In order to show concern that armed men were able to enter and threaten the safety of the KPC, several journalists marched to the Governor House to register their protest over this violation of security. “Let the PFUJ make it clear to such elements that journalists cannot, and will not, be cowed down by such tactics aimed at controlling the media,” the PFUJ President Afzal Butt and Secretary General Ayub Jan Sarhandi was quoted as saying.

This incident of violence has occurred in the backdrop of a time where the media and press are in crisis, with freedom of speech and security of journalists being increasingly threatened. It must not be forgotten that Pakistan has been termed as an unsafe country for journalists by the World Press Freedom Index of Reporters without Borders. It is unfortunate that even with depressing statistics, bills providing security for journalists have failed to pass in the parliament. Forcefully entering the press club with weapons and assaulting journalists is definitely an act of violence and intimidation- and should be taken extremely seriously by the authorities. Media has become a fourth pillar of state- there can be no empowered state without freedom speech and a free and safe media.