PAKISTAN: 16 journalists killed and 47 were injured in different incidents during the eleven months of 2011 

Note: The AHRC would be grateful if journalist and human rights organisations could assist us to correct the list about the killing of the journalists which would help us for issuing the statement on the occasion of International Human Rights Day on December 10.

The security of the media persons remained a big question during the eleven months of 2011 and no proper steps have been taken to provide security by the authorities and even by the media houses. The attitude of the media houses was more indifferent towards the safety and security of journalists as compare with the authorities. The journalists who are involved in their professional duties in the conflict areas are more vulnerable and exposed before the law enforcement agencies, militant groups and other non state actors. The majority of the journalists are under paid or allowed to use only ID cards of the channels they work for and have to arrange their own earnings.

During the eleven months of 2011, journalists have faced the more insecurity and intolerance when compared with previous years. Indeed, there is no change from the military dictatorships of the past. 16 journalists were killed, among them five journalists were abducted by the state intelligence agencies, kept incommunicado in different torture cells, tortured and their bullet ridden bodies were dumped on the road side. Five journalists were killed in bomb blasts while performing their professional duties, six journalists were killed in target killings. One journalist remains missing after abduction by plain clothed persons.

The Balochistan Union of Journalists (BUJ) claims in its press release published by Express Tribune on June 11, 2011, that 10 journalists were killed in Balochistan this year and no investigation has been carried out. The BUJ has not provided a list of the names of those killed.

In different attacks on journalists and media houses 35 working journalists, 10 camera men, one photographer, two drivers and one satellite engineer of print media and television channels were injured during the attacks, thrashed by officials and beaten by different groups.  Three television channels were attacked, one was attacked on two occasions, and one FM radio station was also attacked. Two television channels were banned to stop their broadcasts.

Bullet riddled bodies of missing journalists were found who were allegedly abducted by state agencies

Saleem Shahzad, Pakistan Bureau Chief of the Asia Times Online, an online news agency based in Hong Kong, was going to a private television channel at a talk show in the programme, on the issue of the terrorist attack on PNS Mehran Naval base Karachi. On Sunday, 29 May 2011, he left home at 5.30 in the evening to join the TV talk show but did not reach the station. His whereabouts remained unknown for two days and on May 31, 2011 his dead body was found which was bearing torture marks. His body was found 200 kilometers away from his house. He was abducted from Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan and remains under the tight surveillance of state intelligence agencies. This is one more of the mysterious abductions and extrajudicial killings that have been taking place in Pakistan on a regular basis.

He was continuously receiving death threats from the intelligence agencies for breaking the news that there were Jihadis from banned militant organizations in the Pakistan Navy and they were well protect over there. The US has also confirmed the involvement of Pakistani notorious intelligence agency, the ISI, in his abduction and extra judicial killing.
Javed Naseer Rind’s name was added to the list of more than 10 journalists whose bodies have been found tortured and dumped in Balochistan province. Rind was 26 years old and working as sub editor with local Daily Tawar, a pro nationalist newspaper and he was abducted by plain clothed persons on September 10. Family members claim that he was abducted by the spies from intelligence agency and police have refused to file the first information report (FIR). Rind’s bullet-riddled body was found dumped in Khuzdar, about 300 kilometers south of Quetta, on November 5. The victim was shot in the head and the bullet had passed through the skull. The body bore multiple marks of brutal torture, doctors at the District Headquarters Hospital, Khuzdar said.

Zareef Faraz: The bullet riddled body of Zareef Faraz,a poet and editor of quarterly literary magazine, the Shabjoo, was found on April 25, 2011 from Turbat. According to the media reports, Zareef was abducted one week before his killing and he was abducted when he was going in a passenger bus by uniform and plain clothe persons. Sami Ahmed’s body was also found with the body of Zareef, he was from Tump sub district of province.
Siddique Edio‘s bullet riddled body was on April 28. He was Human rights defender and journalist.  Siddique Eido and his colleague, Yousaf Nazar Baloch, also met a grisly fate, they were abducted by FC and police on December 21. They were seized by the paramilitary Frontier Corps and dragged into a van. Police who tried to protect them were severely beaten. Eido and Baloch were taken to an unknown location. Their bloodied, battered bodies were discovered on 28 April from Makran.

Rehmatullah Shaheen was a journalist and a poet, his bullet-riddled body was recovered from Quetta on February 2. Family members of the victim said the government agencies were responsible for the killing of Rehmatullah Shaheen who was abduct at the start of New Year. Hospital sources said the victim was shot in the head that resulted into instant death as the body was also bearing some torture marks.

Journalists killed in target killings

Nasrullah Khan Afridi, a senior tribal journalist, died in May 2011 when his car blew up by a powerful bomb which was detonated remotely in his car at Khyber Super Market, Peshawar, capital of Khyber Pkhtunkha province. Nasrullah had just boarded his car after returning from a shop near Lala Hotel in Khyber Super Market after faxing news to his media organisation when the bomb went off with a deafening sound around 9:15 p.m. The car was destroyed in the explosion.

Faisal Quereshi, 28, editor for the political news website London Post, was murdered at his resident. His body was discovered on October 7, 2011, about 2 a.m. by his brother, Zahid, after family members found bloodstains outside the journalist’s house. Police reports described the body as showing signs of torture, with the throat slit.

Another brother, Shahid, who lives in London, told that the killers had taken the journalist’s laptop and telephone. Shahid Qureshi, who also wrote for the London Postwebsite, told that he and his brother had received death threats from men who claimed they were from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) political party. The London Post had run a series of stories on MQM leader Altaf Hussain, describing his alleged flight to South Africa from England, where he was living in self-imposed exile.

The website is widely recognized as anti-MQM. MQM is Pakistan’s third-largest political party, and is considered the country’s largest secular political party, with Karachi and the Sindh region as its power base.

Munir Shakir was working for a Balochi language channel, ‘Sabaz Baat’, and for the “Online” news agency. He was shot dead by armed men in Khuzdar town, Balochistan, on August 5. “Munir Shakir was on his way home after purchasing some household items from a market when some armed men riding a motorcycle opened fire on him,” Sources said that Mr Shakir was hit by more than two bullets and died on the spot. He is the fourth journalist to be gunned down in Khuzdar this year.

Wali Khan Babar, 29, reporter of “Geo News, Pakistan’s largest private television news channel was gunned down by unidentified armed men in Karachi on January 13, 2011. Babar received five bullets — two in forehead, one in jaw and two in neck. He was killed shortly after covering operation against drug-traffickers in Pehalwan Goth area in Karachi.

According to press reports, Babar was returning home from Geo News office after performing his professional responsibilities, when two assailants on motorcycle intercepted his car at 9:21 pm and shot him five times through driver’s window from close range. Eyewitnesses told journalists that Babar’s car was stopped by attackers who, after making identification, shot him dead It was blamed by the former Sindh minister of interior affairs that Baber was killed by the gangsters of Muteha Quami MovementBabar leaves behind a widow mother, three sisters and four brothers.

Naveed Kamal, 26, was attacked by unidentified men on the night of April 20 at Abul Hasan Isphahani road, Karachi, capital of Sindh province. He was shot in the neck and is in the Intensive Care Unit at the Aga Khan Hospital. Kamal was the news reporter with Metro One TV channel. No attacker has been arrested.

Ayaz, 32, chief editor of a weekly newspaper, was shot dead in North Karachi in the Sir Syed police limits. On June 12 at afternoon, someone had asked him by telephone to get to the place near a fast food restaurant. According to the eyewitnesses, Ayaz was standing at the place when two people in a car arrived and started talking to Ayaz. In the meantime, the suspects took Ayaz some distance away from the fast food restaurant, opened fire on him and fled. No one has been arrested in killing
Zaman Ibrahim, 40, a newspaper’s crime reporter, was shot dead on Sheedi Village Road in Lyari, Karachi on March 3, 2011. Ibrahim was going on his motorcycle when two motorcyclists followed and shot him in the head. The victim was accused by the police a the member defunct Peoples Amn Committee (peace committee) Ibrahim was father of two children. He worked for different newspapers for the last five years.

Journalist killed in bomb blasts

Asfandyar Khan, a reporter for the newspaper Akhbar-e-Khyber, died in a double bombing that took the lives of more than three dozen people on June 11, 2011. The first, small blast went off at a market, drawing a large crowd, including journalists such as Khan who were covering the story. A second, larger explosion, apparently a suicide bomb, went off after a crowd had grown.

Abid Naveed, the local journalist working with a newspaper, was also died in the same blast of June 11, wherein seven other journalists were injured.  At least 34 people were killed and over 90 injured, among them two other television journalists and a senior police officer.

Shafiullah, a trainee journalist of an English daily newspaper, who was injured in the twin explosions in Peshawar’s Khyber Supermarket, on June 11, succumbed to his injuries on June 15.

Nasrullah Khan Afridi, a senior tribal journalist, died in May 2011 when his car was blown up by a powerful bomb which was detonated by remote control at Khyber Super Market, Peshawar, capital of Khyber Pkhtunkha province. Nasrullah had just boarded his car after returning from a shop near Lala Hotel in Khyber Super Market after faxing news to his media organisation when the bomb went off with a deafening sound around 9:15 p.m. The car was destroyed in the explosion.

A senior journalist is abducted

A group of armed men with covered faces kidnapped senior tribal journalist Rahmatullah Darpakhel from Miramshah, North Waziristan, on August 7, 2011.

He was associated with an Urdu daily Ausaf. Rahmatullah was shopping in the bazaar when a group of armed men bundled him into a car and drove away. He was careful while writing about issues and incidents taking place in the volatile North Waziristan. He had reportedly refused to work with the foreign media due to the dangers associated with journalistic assignments in the militancy-hit tribal region. The News reported on August 8, that the tribal sources said a mysterious group, Khurasan, which is considered as an intelligence wing of the Taliban, was said to be behind such kidnappings and murder of the tribesmen in North Waziristan. Local Taliban led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur denied involvement in Rahmatullah’s kidnapping and denounced the incident. Their spokesman Ahmadullah Ahmadi said they had launched efforts for safe recovery of the journalist.

The list of injured journalists who were attacked, thrashed and arrested would be followed by a separate statement.

The killing, abduction, disappearances, attacks on journalists and media houses are in gross violations of the constitution of Pakistan and international norms.

Article 19 of the constitution of Pakistan guarantees that every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, and there shall be freedom of press.

The Article 19 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Pakistan is the signatory, declares that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

The Article 19 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which was ratified by the Pakistan, calls on the governments that; 1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference. 2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.

The Asian Human Rights Commission urges the authorities to stop the impunity to the perpetrators who are involved in the killings, abduction and disappearances of the journalists, attacks on journalists and media houses. The non committal and indifferent attitude of the governments towards the killings of the journalists has provided encouragement to the powerful group to unleash against the journalists to suppress the freedom of expression and freedom of media. The killings of the journalists and continuous attacks on them shows that policy of the civilian government towards the freedom of media and expression is no more different from the military rule and it may be called as the extension of the policy of military dictators.

The perpetrators, including the officials of the state intelligence agencies and law enforcement authorities, must be prosecuted.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-184-2011
Countries : Pakistan,
Issues : Extrajudicial killings,