On the night of August 30, 2019, three men shot and killed Mirza Waseem Baig, a reporter for the privately owned Pakistani broadcaster 92 News, according to a report by his outlet and Ghania Komal Waseem, the journalist’s daughter, who spoke to CPJ by phone in December 2022.
Baig, 52, was shot six times at his home in the town of Sarai Alamgir, in the eastern province of Punjab, and died at a local hospital, according to those sources, which said the attackers fled the scene following the attack.
CPJ reviewed Baig’s work for 92 News, which included reporting on the activities of a gang that allegedly extorted money from political officials.
Owais Ali, head of the Pakistan Press Foundation, told CPJ via email in December 2022 that he believed Baig was targeted in reprisal for his reporting on criminal activities and gangs due to reports that the journalist had received threats over his work before he was killed.
The Pakistan Journalists Memorial, a webpage run by the press foundation, quoted a local police officer saying that Baig had “annoyed” a local criminal group, and that Baig had identified members of that gang to the police.
That report also cited a former president of the Gujrat Press Club as saying that “the reason behind Baig’s murder was his coverage of the criminal gang.”
The journalist’s daughter also told CPJ that Baig had received threatening calls related to his work in the months before his killing.
In late 2019, police informed the journalist’s family that two of the attackers were killed in a police encounter, Waseem told CPJ, adding that authorities did not identify either attacker by name.
Authorities detained another suspect, Ali Jagga, who allegedly assisted in the killing but was released on bail on at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Waseem said. CPJ was unable to find contact details for Jagga.
In March 2021, Baig’s family entered into an agreement with Jagga’s family and withdrew the case against him, Waseem added. In Pakistan, police are not obliged to investigate murder cases if the family withdraws their complaint, Ali said.
The third attacker remained unidentified as of late 2022, Waseem told CPJ, adding that whoever planned or ordered the attack had never been identified.
Waseem said the journalist’s family received several anonymous threats related to Baig’s work following his killing and moved to another city.
CPJ became aware of Baig’s killing in 2022.
Faisal Shahkar, inspector-general of the Punjab police, did not respond to CPJ’s request for comment sent via messaging app in December 2022.