Reporter killed in third attack on Pakistani journalists in 24 hours

New York, September 9, 2015–The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed by the violence against journalists and media workers in Pakistan after three separate attacks in 24 hours. Former Geo News business reporter Aftab Alam was killed outside his home in Karachi today by two gunmen, according to media reports. The shooting came less than 24 hours after a Geo News technician was killed in Karachi when gunmen opened fire on a broadcast van belonging to the privately owned station. No group has claimed responsibility for either attack.

Within the same time period Abdul Azam, a journalist for the state-run broadcaster Pakistan Television, was shot three times in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, near the border with Afghanistan, according to a local media report and messages to CPJ from Pakistani journalists. Azam survived but remains hospitalized, the report said. Peshawar is home to several factions of militant groups, but no one has claimed responsibility for the shooting. It was not immediately clear if the shooting was linked to Azam’s work as a journalist.

“With poor investigations and little follow up, attacks on journalists continue to go unexplained and unprosecuted. Journalists have a right to expect better protection from Pakistan’s government,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “The recent spate of attacks underscores not only the danger that journalists face, but also the authorities’ inability to follow through on promises to protect them.”

The motive for the attack on Alam in Karachi is unclear. “As he came out of his house, two men on motorbikes fired shots at him and escaped,” Feroz Shah, a police officer, told Reuters. Alam, who had not worked in broadcast media for 18 months because of ill health, died instantly, Geo News reported.

Referring to the attack on the broadcast van, Azhar Abbas, managing director of Geo News, told CPJ by email, “Police have to determine the real motive behind the attack.” Describing it as a targeted attack on Geo and the free media, Abbas added: “We strongly condemn this, but at the same time we rely on police and other law enforcement agencies who have assured us of a thorough, speedy, and transparent investigation into the incident. We expect them to bring the planners and attackers to justice.”

In a meeting with a delegation from CPJ in March 2014, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made a commitment to address violence directed at the media, including establishing a joint commission to address the attacks on media and to speed up prosecutions of killers. There have been no convictions in attacks on journalists since Sharif made his promise.