Pakistani journalist shot in Karachi; circumstances unclear

New York, October 18, 2007–The Committee to Protect Journalists is distressed to learn of the shooting death of Azar Abbas Haidri, a staff reporter for The Post, the Islamabad-based, English-language daily. Azar’s body was found in Karachi early Tuesday morning. He had gone there to celebrate the Muslim Eid holiday with his family.

“We offer our condolences to the family and friends of Azar Abbas Haidri,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director. “We urge police to follow through on the investigation of this killing.”

Initial news reports offered conflicting information, although most said that Azar was shot at close range and that his body showed evidence of a beating. In an editorial, The Post said “his dead body carried signs of torture.”

The Post’s editorial also said that “police have termed it a target killing, conjecturing that the culprits had killed him at another place and then dumped his body.” The editorial, citing police sources, said a rickshaw driver drove away after dumping the body along a road in the densely populated Lyari section of Karachi.

Initial statements from Azar’s family, as reported in local media, were contradictory: Some said he was the victim of robbers who took his cell phone, although his wallet was found on the body; others said Azar was seeking to marry a woman who had not been approved by his family. The Post said Azar “may be a victim of those who have a record of silencing any voice against them” but did not make a specific accusation.