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Updates on Wali Khan Babar and Umar Cheema in Pakistan

Here are two quick updates on prominent Pakistani cases we've been following:

Despite police claims made soon after the assassination-style killing of Geo TV reporter Wali Khan Babar on January 13, there have been no arrests made in his case, and there is little reason to expect that there will be any. Babar was one of 20 people killed in gang violence in Karachi that day. He was returning home after his report on the violence had been aired. Mark another case in Pakistan's poor record for impunity for the killers of journalists--the country ranked 10th last year in CPJ's Impunity Index.

Cheema

There's been a slight bit of movement in Umar Cheema's abduction and torture case. The News reporter was taken for two days in September 2010, then dumped by the side of the road. He says he's convinced that it was carried out by government agents. A joint government Investigation Team report went nowhere, and the results of a legislative investigation were kept secret.

Cheema sent me a head's up that Pakistan's Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights has taken up his case. The chairman of the Committee, Senator Afrasiyab Khattack, said he will write letters to the directors-general of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) demanding they hold an internal inquiry to determine who carried out the attack, and who it is that continues to keep Cheema under surveillance.

The ISI and IB are forces unto themselves and have seldom felt any pressure to answer to anyone, including Senate or presidential requests, but at least in Cheema's case there's a bit of positive news to share.

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