Last month, the horrific death of two broadcast journalists shone a spotlight on the dangerous working conditions faced by news media professionals in Pakistan.

Television news anchor Arshad Sharif, unceremoniously fired by his channel in September, was shot dead in Kenya a month later in mysterious circumstances. TV reporter Sadaf Naeem fell from a truck carrying Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leaders and chairman Imran Khan during his long march, and was crushed to death near Sadhoke. Both gruesome deaths were politicised by leaders trying to score points in an unending battle of 'who is the worst fascist.'

While the circumstances around Sharif's death are vastly different to Naeem's, who died in the line of duty, it bears mentioning because it points to the dangers journalists face for their reporting.

Naeem's news reminded a reporter in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), who asked not to be named, of the time she travelled with Khan in May during his rally in Peshawar. She and her team had no safety equipment then. Although she did not say it, I knew what she was thinking: it could have been her.

Adequately trained journalists who feel safe doing their job is perhaps one of the most effective ways of fighting disinformation. Journalists should press media owners to prioritise safety training and being paid on time, in accordance with the law...

This KP journalist is no stranger to dangerous working conditions, having reported across KP when terrorism was at its peak following 9/11. Then, the channel had distributed some protective gear to essential staff. However, that equipment was recalled once the violence died down though, she says, 'You know violence hasn't exactly ceased completely.' Today too, she barely sees any other reporters in protective gear when heading into clearly dangerous situations.

Karachi is no less a terrible landscape for violence. Freelance journalist Tooba Masood Khan remembers the bombing of then SSP Chaudhry Aslam's house in DHA in 2012. She heard the explosion as she lived nearby and, since no one else was in the newsroom that early in the morning, she was told to go to the scene to 'check it out.' Once she got there, she realised 'I had absolutely no idea what I was supposed to do,' she tells me. 'I was a young journalist then and had no idea about what journalists do, what safety was. No one had spoken to me about it, no one had told me.'

Naeem's death has kickstarted a much needed conversation on the lack of safety...

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