CPJ presses Pakistan to uphold impunity pledge

June 1, 2011 

President Asif Ali Zardari 
Islamic Republic of Pakistan 
President House 
Islamabad, Pakistan

Dear President Zardari,

I am sure you are just as horrified and concerned as I am about the deaths of journalists Saleem Shahzad on Sunday evening outside of Islamabad and Nasrullah Afridi in Peshawar on May 10.

After you met with our delegation on May 3, World Press Freedom Day, we reported that you had said you were committed to pursuing justice for journalists killed in the line of duty, “pledging to take steps to reverse the country’s rising record of impunity.”

“The protection of journalists is in my mandate,” you told us, as you asked your cabinet members to work with Parliament in developing legislation to monitor and address attacks on journalists. 

After ending our meeting with you and a subsequent session with Interior Minister Rehman Malik on May 4, we sensed that you and your cabinet members had a much deeper appreciation of the depth of the impunity with which journalists are killed in Pakistan, and fully grasped the harm done when they are murdered and no one is brought to justice.

President Zardari, two more journalists have been killed since our meeting with you, and we see no movement by your government to address the 15 cases on the list of journalists killed with impunity since 2002, which we presented to you at our meeting.

I ask you and your government to reaffirm the pledges you made to us and Pakistan’s community of journalists when we met on World Press Freedom Day. As managing editor of The Wall Street Journal when Daniel Pearl was killed, I know Pakistan has the capacity to pursue and prosecute the killers of journalists. 

We offer our assistance to your government and to our colleagues in Pakistan in helping you follow through on your pledge.


Paul E. Steiger