Veteran Pakistani journalist gunned down in Baluchistan

March 1, 2013, New York–Pakistani authorities should investigate today’s murder of a journalist in the country’s restive Baluchistan province, determine the motive, and apprehend the perpetrators immediately, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Unknown gunmen killed Mehmood Jan Afridi while he was headed to a local press club from his home in the city of Kalat, according to The Associated Press and local news reports. News accounts did not immediately report further details of the attack.

Afridi had worked for the Urdu-language print and online The Daily Intekhab for almost 20 years, and was the head of the Kalat Press Club, according to Anwar Sajidi, executive editor of the paper, who spoke to CPJ by phone. It is not clear if Afridi had published any controversial stories before his death, but Sajidi said that he had often covered politics and crime and operated under the same pressures faced by other journalists in Baluchistan.

Journalists in Baluchistan work in a dangerous climate, under pressure to report in line with the views of several elements, including pro-Taliban groups, security forces, and intelligence agencies, as well as Baluch separatists and state-sponsored anti-separatist militant groups.

The Associated Press reported that Afridi’s colleagues said he had received threatening calls from a Baluch nationalist group. They did not offer further details.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the murder, according to Sajidi.

“The level of violence against journalists in Pakistan remains alarming. Authorities must work to reverse this trend and identify the motive behind the murder of Mehmood Jan Afridi,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ Asia program coordinator. “The perpetrators of this crime should be apprehended immediately.”

Afridi is survived his brother, wife, and two children.

With at least seven journalists killed in Pakistan in 2012, the country was ranked one of the world’s deadliest for the press. Two days ago, on February 27, senior journalist Malik Mumtaz was gunned down in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas along the border line with Afghanistan. At least three other Pakistani journalists have been killed in 2013, all of them at the site of a twin explosion in Quetta on January 10. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: This alert has been modified to reflect the correct number of Afridi’s children.