Pakistani journalist slain; CPJ urges investigation

New York, November 1, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists urges an immediate, high-level investigation into today’s murder of Mohammad Ismail, Islamabad bureau chief for Pakistan Press International (PPI). Ismail’s body was found this morning near his home in Islamabad with “his head completely smashed with some hard blunt object” according to Mazhar Abbas, secretary-general of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists. The Associated Press reported that a police investigator said an iron bar may have been used as a weapon.

Ismail, nearing retirement, was last seen when he left his house to take a late evening walk. Doctors who received the body when it was taken to hospital told PFUJ that Ismail had been dead a few hours before the body was discovered.

Ismail’s family told Abbas that they were at a loss as to what could have prompted the attack. They told him Ismail was carrying little of value when he was assaulted. Ismail’s news agency is not known for particularly critical reporting of the government, CPJ research shows

“Mohammad Ismail’s murder must be fully investigated,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director. “An alarming number of Pakistani journalists have been killed with impunity in the last four years. The government must show that it is determined to end this very poor record by waging a timely and thorough investigation.”

CPJ records show that at least nine journalists have been killed for their work beginning in 2002, when U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and brutally slain. Only in the Pearl case has the government carried out an extensive investigation, made arrests, and won convictions. During a CPJ mission to Pakistan in July, officials promised to review investigative records and reveal government information on the deaths of Pakistani journalists killed.

Read CPJ’s July report from Islamabad.

Read more on killings in Pakistan, including the recent murder of reporter Hayatullah Khan.