Pakistani journalist killed in Lahore

New York, October 7, 2011–A Lahore-based editor for a political news website was found dead early this morning, according to Pakistani news reports and the journalist’s brother.

The body of Faisal Qureshi, 28, an editor for the London Post, was discovered about 2 a.m. by his brother, Zahid Qureshi, after family members found bloodstains outside the journalist’s house, Zahid told Pakistani daily The Express Tribune. Police reports described the body as showing signs of torture, with the throat slit, The Express Tribune reported. The English-language daily The News ran a similar story, quoting police as saying, “Some unknown outlaws entered his house and killed him with a sharp-edged instrument.”

Another brother of the journalist, Shahid, who lives in London, told CPJ that the killers had taken Faisal’s laptop and telephone.

Shahid Qureshi, who has also written for the London Post, told CPJ that he and his brother had recently received death threats from men who claimed they were from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) political party. The London Post has run a series of stories on MQM leader Altan Hussain, describing his alleged flight to South Africa from England, where he is living in self-imposed exile, and has also, in an editorial, accused former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Asif Ali Zardari of amassing overseas wealth of more than $8 billion by stealing U.S. foreign aid to the country. It was not immediately clear whether Sharif or Zardari responded publicly to the allegations.

“CPJ is concerned by the emerging details of this case, which is being watched closely by the international community. Given the circumstances, we call for the appointment of an independent committee to investigate this murder,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Pakistan has a record of impunity which they must overcome.”

MQM is Pakistan’s third-largest political party, and is considered the country’s largest secular political party, with Karachi and the Sindh region as its power base.

Pakistan was the deadliest country in the world in 2010, according to CPJ data. The country also ranked 10th on CPJ’s global Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are regularly slain and authorities fail to solve the crimes. If Qureshi’s death turns out to be due to his work as a journalist, he will be the fourth journalist to die this year in a targeted killing.