Pakistan: Most Dangerous County for Journalists; 25 Media Men killed from Jan. 2011 to 30th April 2012; RMNP releases Annual Press Freedom Report

Twenty three journalist were killed in different parts of the country in 2011, Press Freedom Organisation the Rural Media Network Pakistan (RMNP) disclosed in its Annual Press Freedom Report released by President RMNP Ehsan Ahmed Sehar here on the eve of World Press Freedom Day today.
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), World Association of Newspapers & News Publishers (WAN), Reporters San Frontiers (RSF), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and International Press Institute (IPI) have placed Pakistan on top in the list of most dangerous countries for freedom of expression, according to the report released on World Press Freedom Day 2012.
According to the report, 23 newsmen were brutally killed during 2011, in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, Federally Administrated Tribal Area (FATA), Sindh and Punjab. Not a single case was investigated after registering the case by police officials. Due to unknown reasons no attempt was made to apprehend the criminals, the report said.
The lives of working journalists are at risk in the country as administration had not taken adequate steps for the safety. “Journalists working in conflict areas and hostile zones are more vulnerable” the report added.
During first four months of 2012 three journalists were reportedly killed.
Mukarram Ali Atif 45, was shot dead in a mosque in Shab Qader town of Mohmand Agency on January 17. He was working for Deeva Radio Washington and Dunya News, a privately owned Pakistani TV channel. He left behind two widows.
On March 17, Shah Hussain, a journalist from Malakand area was found dead in a hotel in Mengora town of KPK. He left behind five children and a widow. Hussain was correspondent for two daily newspapers “Khyber” and “Jinnah” and also working for a private news channel Aaj TV.
Post mortem report proved his death due to heart arrest. His brother Imtiaz Alam also confirmed the report but said Hussain’s family is facing serious financial problems and they need help to survive.
Murtaza Rizvi a senior magazine editor in Dawn Group was killed on April 19 in port city of Karachi, the business hub of the country. He was strangulated to death and his body was found from a photo studio, owned by his friend.
Journalist Ilyas Nazar was killed on January 5 last year in Balochistan, where nationalist groups are actively engaged for liberation. He was kidnapped from Pidrak area, later his body was thrown alongside a deserted road.
Wali Khan Babar a reporter for TV channel Geo News was brutally killed in Karachi on January 13. Two men on motor bike fired bullets from short distance. Babar was heading home in his car when attacked.
In Feb. 2011, senior anchor Talat Hussain and his colleague camera person Haider Ali escaped firing when they were busy to cover the misery of flood affected families in Thatta. Both media persons had to run to save their lives. The culprits belonged to a land grabbers group.
During the same month, journalist Khan Muhammad of an Urdu daily was attacked in Multan, central city of Southern Punjab. He got bullet wounds.
On Feb. 2 Rehmatullah Shaheen was killed in Quetta, capital city of Balochistan province.
Dost Rind was hot dead in Turbat, town of Balochistan on Feb. 19. He was correspondent of “Uqab” newspaper.
On March 16, Rana Abrar Hussain of Daily Nawa-e-Waqt was murdered in Chiniot city.
Fayaz Qamar a camera person of a private TV channel was shot at and injured in the premises of provincial parliament building.
Reporter Zaman Ibrahim of Express News channel was shot dead in Lyari area of Karachi, where criminal gangs are fighting with each other for a long time.
A reporter of state owned PTv channel, Nasarullah Khan Afridi was killed in a car bomb blast in Peshawar on May 9 last year. He was also working for a daily newspaper Mashriq. Some reports suggest he was on the list of Taliban and got many threatening messages before death.
On May 18, a reporter for a private TV channel Mahram Ali Shaikh was killed in Khairpur, a historical city of Sindh province.
The killing of Salim Shahzad is still a mystery. He was bureau chief of “Asia Today” Hong Kong. His body was found in Mandi Bahauddin on May 31, 2011. An unknown caller delivered a massage to his family for his safe release, just 24 hours before his body was recovered.
The government formed a commission of inquiry after protest from Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and civil society but failed to fix the responsibility.
On June 11, Asfand Yar and Abid Naved both staffers of Khyber daily were killed while covering a bomb blast in a super market of Peshawar. Eight other reporters were injured in the incident including Salim Gul, Safiullah, Imran Bukhari, Barkat ullah Marwat, Qazi Fazalullah and Hashim Ali. Safiullah succumbed to injuries in a hospital after four days.
Muhammad Ayaz Khan, editor of a weekly magazine seriously injured when a gun man made him target in Karachi. He died on his way to hospital.
In June 2011, two journalists Asif Butt and Mian Dawood of Lahore got bullet wounds in attack. Assailants escaped after firing.
Waqar Kayani a reporter for a UK based newspaper was kidnapped in Lahore and severely tortured. Waheed Butt a private channel’s camera person was beaten by police in the same city.
In July 2011, Malik Munawar, political reporter of a privately owned TV channel was kidnapped from Karachi and after 48 hours his body was found in Balochistan. During same month two journalists, Yasin Ansari and Khalid Sardar were kidnapped by unknown persons from Bahawalpur and later set free after shaving mustaches and eyebrows. The both reporters had given news against criminals who were reportedly involved in some women kidnapping incidents.
Four journalists were arrested in Mianwali under the terrorism law. PFUJ and human rights organizations protested against the arrests.
Last year on August 14, the National Day of Pakistan, Munir Shakir was killed in Khuzdar, Balochistan. He was working for an online news network and a private Balochi language TV channel. Shakir was fourth journalist killed in this small town. Faiz Sasuli, Abdul Wasey and Muhammad Khan Sasuli were also killed in the same town before.
RSF declared Khuzdar the most dangerous place for media in Pakistan.
Faisal Qureshi, web editor of UK based magazine London Post was killed in his home in Lahore.
In November 2011 Javed Nazir was killed in Hub, Balochistan after two months of disappearing. Wiqaruddin a senior journalist and member of Hangu Press Club KPK was murdered due to an old enmity.
Small incidents of intimidation, torture and humiliation were also reported from a number of small and remote areas of Pakistan against the working journalists who were actively defending the freedom of press and expression. Many journalists were nominated in fake criminal cases for writing stories against corruption scandals of influential land lords, politicians and government officials. Many were put behind the bars.
The Rural Media Network Pakistan has demanded of the government to: immediately arrest all the criminals responsible for the killings of journalists from 2000 to this day and take them to task and urged to take immediate action on the protest letters from WAN, UNESCO, IFJ, IPI, RSF, IFEX and other organizations.
Press freedom organisation has also demanded immediate action to implement the assurances of the President of Pakistan made to the delegation from CPJ in Islamabad. besides the compensation the families of journalists killed in line of duty.RMNP has underlined the need of the passage of a law to make it compulsory for media houses to provide Bullet Proof Jackets and life insurance cover to their staffers working in conflict areas and hostile environment.
Date. 5/3/2012

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