Pakistan should release investigation into 2006 death

December 6, 2011

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

Dear President Zardari:

This week marks the six-year anniversary of the abduction of journalist Hayatullah Khan. We join his family in asking your government to release the report on the investigation into his death that was prepared by High Court Justice Mohammed Reza Khan in September 2006 under the orders of former President Pervez Musharraf.

Hayatullah Khan was abducted on December 5, 2005, one day after his pictures were published of the remnants of a U.S.-made Hellfire missile that had struck a home in the town of Miran Shah, killing senior al-Qaeda figure Hamza Rabia. Khan’s pictures refuted denials by former President Musharraf’s government that the explosion at the house came from an American source. According to his brother Hasseenullah, who was with him at the time, five gunmen in a white, four-door Toyota pickup truck ran their car off the road, and took Khan away. Six months later, on June 16, 2006, Khan’s body was dumped in Miran Shah’s marketplace.

When we met with Interior Minister Rehman Malik and yourself on May 3 this year, you both pledged to release the results of the investigation into Khan’s death. Minister Malik met with our delegation again on May 4 to ensure us that his ministry would expedite the release, as well as forward information regarding our list of 15 journalists murdered since 2002. None of that has happened, and since we presented that report, four more Pakistani journalists have been slain in targeted killings, with none of the perpetrators brought to justice.

In our most recent conversation with Khan’s brother Ahsan Ahmad Khan on December 6, he told us: “We want to know who is responsible for Hayatullah’s death. We need to identify my brother’s murderers to the world. We need to find out not just who murdered my brother, but who gave the order. That is the most important thing.”

Justice Khan’s report is in the hands of your government. It would be a simple matter for it to be made public. We look forward to the release of the report, and to Minister Malik’s follow-up on the cases of the 19 journalists who have died in Pakistan in targeted killings since 2002.

Joel Simon
Executive Director

CC: Interior Minister Rehman Malik
CC: Sandra Mims Rowe, CPJ Chairman
CC: Paul Steiger, CPJ Advisory Board