Pakistan: CPJ calls on authorities for information about missing journalist

New York, July 13, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities in the Pakistani province of Sindh to clarify immediately whether they are holding journalist Mehruddin Mari, who has been missing since July 2.

CPJ has confirmed that Mari, a correspondent for the Sindhi-language newspaper The Daily Kawish, was taken by police, according to journalists who witnessed his detention. Police have declined to comment on the case. Daily Kawish editor Ali Kazi and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) say they believe Mari is in government custody.

On July 2, police vans with more than 30 officers blocked the road between the town of Jati, southeast of Karachi, and the town of Golarchi, where Mari is the Daily Kawish correspondent. They stopped Mari, who was returning home with fellow members of the Golarchi Press Club after a meeting in Jati with Minister of State Muhammad Ali Malkani. Press club members said police took Mari away without explanation. Mari covered political and human rights issues in Golarchi, according to PFUJ.

“We call on Pakistani authorities to state unequivocally whether they are holding our colleague Mehruddin Mari,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “It is outrageous that a journalist can simply disappear in this manner. He should be released immediately.”

Two journalists disappeared for three months in Sindh earlier this year. Eventually, authorities filed criminal cases in June against Geo TV correspondent Mukesh Rupeta and freelance cameraman Sanjay Kumar for filming an air force base in violation of the Official Secrets Act.