Pakistan: CPJ urges probe into journalist killings

Washington, June 21, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists met with Pakistan’s new ambassador to the United States today to press for an investigation into the killing of Hayatullah Khan and other journalists.

Ambassador Mahmud Ali Durrani said he would convey CPJ’s concerns to his government when he visits Islamabad at the end of the week.

“I will pass along your concern and encourage a full fledged investigation, pursued with vigor,” Durrani told the CPJ delegation which comprised CPJ’s Deputy Director Joel Simon, board member Andrew Alexander, Asia Program coordinator Bob Dietz, and CPJ Washington representative Frank Smyth.

During the meeting, the delegation raised the abduction and killing of Khan and the general level of insecurity for journalists working in Pakistan. Khan was the eighth journalist to be killed in Pakistan since 2002. While key figures have been convicted of the January 2002 kidnapping and murder of U.S. reporter Daniel Pearl, the other murders remain unresolved.

Khan’s body was found June 16 by villagers in the North Waziristan town of Mir Ali, from where he was abducted on December 5, 2005. Local government officials and family members told journalists that Khan had been shot in the back of the head, probably on June 15, and was in handcuffs. He appeared frail and had grown a long beard since he was last seen, family members told CPJ. Khan disappeared after reporting that an al-Qaeda commander had been killed by a U.S. missile, contradicting official Pakistani accounts of the death. To read more on Khan’s case click here:

Khan, a photographer for international news agencies and a reporter for the Urdu-language daily Ausaf, had received numerous threats from Pakistani security forces, Taliban members, and local tribesmen because of his reporting.

CPJ has documented numerous attacks on journalists in Pakistan who face threats from every quarter, including from the government.

“We share the anger and frustration Pakistani journalists have expressed in the days following Hayatullah’s death,” Simon said.

“We are glad that the ambassador has promised a vigorous investigation, but given the government’s performance and apparent attitude before Hayatullah’s death, we urge our Pakistani colleagues to continue to press for a full investigation into Hayatullah’s abduction and slaying,” Simon added.