New York, February 27, 2013–Pakistani authorities should immediately launch an investigation into the targeted murder of a veteran journalist who was shot dead today in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, the Committee to Protect Journalists said. Malik Mumtaz had worked for several mainstream news outlets and had recently been elected president of the regional press club, news reports said.
Early news accounts reported that unidentified men in a car with tinted windows opened fire on Mumtaz, as he drove to his home in Miran Shah, in the main city of North Waziristan. No further details on the murder were reported.
Mumtaz, a journalist for more than 20 years, had worked for Geo News television and the daily News International in both English and Urdu, news reports said. His most recent print stories included coverage of the general violence in North Waziristan and a report on the controversial issue of a local polio vaccination program. Health workers administering polio vaccines were killed in December by militants who called the program a cover for intelligence gathering activities, news reports said.
Mumtaz’s colleagues said he had received threats for his reporting in the past. Journalists working in the FATA say they are often threatened by several sources–militant groups, criminal gangs involved in drug trafficking and arms dealing, and the Pakistani military and intelligence organizations.
A spokesman for Pakistani Taliban militants in the region denied responsibility for the murder and condemned the killing, news reports said. No group has taken responsibility for the attack.
There have been no convictions of killers of journalists in Pakistan in the last 10 years. CPJ research shows that, with 19 unsolved cases, Pakistan’s record of impunity has worsened considerably. The country ranks as the 10th worst on CPJ’s global Impunity Index.
“The death of a veteran journalist such as Malik Mumtaz must not go uninvestigated and unexplained,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “CPJ joins with Pakistani journalists in calling for a full investigation into this murder as a first step in reversing the perfect impunity with which the deaths of journalists are treated in the country.”