Muhammad Zada Agra

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

On November 8, 2021, two men shot and killed Pakistani journalist Muhammad Zada Agra near his home in the city of Sakhakot, in the Malakand district of the northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, according to news reports.

Agra covered politics, corruption, and local drug cartels and criminal groups on his Facebook page Citizen Journalist PK, which has about 17,000 followers, and its corresponding YouTube channel, which has about 490 subscribers. He also worked as a sub-editor at the Pashto-language newspaper Sada-e-Malakand, according to the Pakistan Press Foundation.

He previously was the district president of the Insaf Students Federation, the student wing of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf political party, according to Dawn.

In October, Agra spoke at a public hearing, a video of which was uploaded to the Citizen Journalist PK YouTube Channel, and criticized the then deputy commissioner of the Malakand police over his alleged inaction responding to local drug cartels. 

Following the hearing, Agra posted on his personal Facebook page alleging that the deputy commissioner was part of a “dirty conspiracy,” and that he was trying to misuse his authority to harass and arrest Agra. Agra wrote that, if anything happened to him, the former deputy commissioner would be responsible.

That deputy commissioner and an assistant commissioner of the Malakand police were suspended one day after Agra’s killing, according to news reports.

Sada-e-Malakand editor Gohar Rehman told the Pakistan Press Foundation that, following the October hearing, Zada received several threatening calls from unknown numbers but continued to write about local criminal groups for the newspaper and on social media.

Protesters gathered in Sakhakot following Agra’s death and said the journalist informed authorities about threats to his life prior to his killing, but was not offered protection, according to Samaa TV. The report did not state whether the threats were related to his journalism or his other activities.

On November 15, 2021, Anwarul Haq, the newly appointed deputy commissioner of the Malakand district police, said two men connected to local drug traffickers had been arrested and a motorcycle and Kalashnikov rifle used in the killing had been recovered, according to news reports

CPJ called and emailed the Malakand police deputy inspector-general, Abdul Ghafoor Afridi, and emailed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police department for comment, but did not receive any replies.