In Pakistan, second journalist shot dead in a month

New York, November 23, 2015–Local television reporter Hafeez Ur Rehman was killed Sunday morning while riding a motorcycle in Kohat, the provincial capital of a district in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, according to media reports. Rehman, a television reporter, is the second journalist this month to be shot dead in Pakistan’s tribal regions.

“Journalists in Pakistan, especially in the northwest, are under siege. If the government in Islamabad cannot bring justice in such cases, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa authorities must step in to address the impunity with which journalists are killed,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “Journalists are victimized by all sides in Pakistan’s internal conflicts and they are desperate to find safe havens from attackers. It is the government’s responsibility to come to their aid. Despite all the killings over the years, that has not happened.”

Fazal Naeem, a police spokesman, told Agence France-Presse that Rehman was hit by three bullets. The attackers were also riding a motorcycle when they opened fire, AFP reported.

The motive behind the killing of Rehman, who had been working as a journalist for 12 years and was employed by Neo TV, an independent network covering national and international news, is unclear, local reports said. Local Pakistani media said colleagues were unaware of any threat against the 42-year-old reporter, who was seen as a senior figure in the media community in Kohat. No one has claimed responsibility for Rehman’s murder.

In the case of Zaman Mehsud, a print journalist shot dead on November 3 in Tank district, about 135 miles (217 kilometers) from Kohat, the Taliban claimed responsibility, according to reports. It is difficult to verify such claims in Pakistan and CPJ is still investigating to determine if Mehsud’s reporting was a motive for the murder. Kohat and Tank are near the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, where militant groups remain active despite Pakistani military efforts to quell them.

Pakistan ranks as the seventh most deadly country for journalists, CPJ data show. At least 62 journalists and media workers have been killed there in relation to their work since 1992. In 19 other cases, CPJ is investigating to determine if the journalists were killed because of their work. The country ranks ninth on CPJ’s Global Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are slain and the killers go free. Despite pledges from the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, little progress has been made in investigating the murders or bringing the killers to justice.