In Pakistan, one journalist murdered, another attacked

New York, October 15, 2013–The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Pakistani Minister of Information Pervaiz Rasheed to follow through on a public commitment he made last week to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate attacks against journalists. Since his statement, one journalist was murdered on Friday and another was beaten on Thursday, according to news reports.

Ayub Khattak, a reporter for the Karak Times in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s southern Karak district, was shot dead outside his home on Friday, according to news reports and the Freedom Network, a newly launched Pakistani press freedom watchdog organization. Eyewitness accounts said two unidentified assailants riding a motorcycle waited outside Khattak’s home, fired at him when he appeared, and then fled the scene, the reports said.

Khattak’s colleagues said he had recently published a story on the sale of illegal drugs and a local gang of drug peddlers, according to news reports. Khattak had worked as a journalist since 2004, and had received threats in the past after his reports exposed criminal elements in the region.

A day earlier, three unidentified men used iron rods to attack Sardar Shafiq, a reporter for the Urdu local daily Ittehad and the former general-secretary of the Abbottabad Union of Journalists, according to news reports and local press freedom groups. The journalist was leaving his office in the city of Abbottabad late Thursday night. Shafiq suffered injuries including a broken nose, the reports said. The motive of the attack was unclear.

Both attacks followed a statement by Minister of Information Pervaiz Rasheed at a meeting in Islamabad on October 8. Rasheed expressed his support for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate attacks against journalists as part of the implementation of the larger U.N. Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and Issue of Impunity.

“We call on Minister Rasheed to match his words with actions by pressing his government to thoroughly investigate this latest murder and bring the perpetrators to justice,” said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz. “The minister should use these cases to underline his stated commitment to ending violence against journalists in Pakistan.”

In May, CPJ published a report, “Roots of Impunity: Pakistan’s Endangered Press and the Perilous Web of Militancy, Security, and Politics,” which found that Pakistani journalists are targeted not only by militants, criminals, and warlords, but also by political, military, and intelligence operatives. Pakistan is ranked one of the deadliest in the world for the press, according to CPJ research.

  • For more data and analysis, visit CPJ’s Pakistan page.