Pakistan ranks ninth on CPJ’s 2020 Global Impunity Index 

In this file photo, Pakistani journalists and civil society activists hold placards during a protest in Karachi on Oct. 28, 2017. (AFP)
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Updated 29 October 2020

Pakistan ranks ninth on CPJ’s 2020 Global Impunity Index 

  • The annual index spotlights countries where journalists are slain and their killers go free
  • The ranking is: Somalia, Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Mexico, Philippines, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Russia, India

ISLAMABAD: The Committee to Protect Journalists has ranked Pakistan number nine on its annual Global Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are slain and their killers go free. 

The ranking is: Somalia, Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Mexico, Philippines, Brazil, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Russia, India.

Each year the CPJ index includes more stable countries where criminal and political groups, politicians, business leaders, and other powerful actors resort to violence to silence critical and investigative journalists. 

“CPJ has found that corruption, weak institutions, and lack of political will to pursue robust investigations are all factors behind impunity in these countries, which include Pakistan, Mexico, and the Philippines,” the watchdog said on its website. 

In Pakistan, a verdict in the Daniel Pearl case this year showed that “even murder cases that were long thought to be resolved can be upended,” the watchdog said. 

On April 2, the Sindh High Court overturned the murder convictions of four men accused in the 2002 killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. The decision found Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who had previously been sentenced to death, guilty only of kidnapping Pearl and reduced his sentence to seven years, which he has already served. The Pearl family and the Sindh provincial government appealed, and according to news reports, the four men remained imprisoned at the end of September.

Freeing the men “would be a devastating setback for justice that would also send a dangerous message to Jihadi militants in Pakistan and around the world, who have systematically targeted journalists in the 18 years since Pearl was killed,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon wrote in the Columbia Journalism Review.

Pakistan and the Philippines have been mainstays on the Global Impunity Index since its inception in 2008. The Philippines is the biggest mover in this year’s rankings, improving from the fifth worst country worldwide to the seventh worst.


Thousands of Pakistanis join final trials for China-made vaccine

Updated 28 min 12 sec ago

Thousands of Pakistanis join final trials for China-made vaccine

  • First time Pakistan has participated in such a trial, which comes amid positive vaccine announcements by Western pharmaceutical companies this month
  • The country has confirmed more than 382,000 cases including over 7,800 deaths since the virus arrived in late February

ISLAMABAD: Thousands of volunteers are flocking to research hospitals across Pakistan to join final-stage clinical trials of a Chinese-made vaccine for the coronavirus.
It is the first time Pakistan has participated in such a trial, which comes amid a string of positive vaccine announcements by Western pharmaceutical companies this month.
The vaccine is being developed by CanSinoBio and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology China.
“I have volunteered myself for a noble cause that will help humanity,” said a volunteer at Islamabad’s Shifa hospital, where hundreds of participants are being paid about $50 for their trouble.
Others should “step forward and take part in this noble cause which will save lives,” he added.
For years, China has focused much of its attention in Pakistan on mammoth development projects, bankrolling the construction of roads, power plants and a strategic port.
Beijing has now tapped one of its closest allies to participate in the vaccine trials, despite Pakistan’s chequered history with inoculation campaigns.
“We hope to have some findings ready about the accuracy and efficacy of the vaccine in two to three months,” Ejaz Ahmad Khan, the principal researcher overseeing the trial in Pakistan, told AFP.
Officials said Pakistan has already inoculated about 7,000 of the 10,000 participants expected to receive a jab.
The trials come with intensive care wards across the country nearing capacity as a second, deadlier wave of the coronavirus spreads and officials struggle to counter public indifference to the pandemic.
The country has confirmed more than 382,000 cases including over 7,800 deaths since the virus arrived in late February.
Less than a year after the coronavirus that has claimed 1.4 million lives began spreading across the globe, a number of highly promising Covid-19 vaccines are on the cusp of release.
Four separate drug makers have recently announced that their vaccines are effective for most people.
Due to lingering suspicions over vaccines, Pakistan is one of just two countries where polio continues to spread, sparking fears that a new drive to inoculate the population against the coronavirus will fail.
The Chinese vaccine is also undergoing phase 3 trials — or large-scale testing on humans — in several other nations including China, Russia, Chile, Argentina and Saudi Arabia.