Mukarram Khan Aatif

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Two gunmen killed Aatif, a reporter for the Pashto-language
service of the U.S. government-funded Voice of America, at a mosque in
Shabqadar, north of Peshawar. The assailants, who struck during evening
prayers, shot Aatif multiple times before fleeing on motorcycles, police told
reporters. Aatif died of his injuries at Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar. An
imam was injured in the attack.

Taliban spokesmen spoke to several news outlets, taking
responsibility for the killing. Ihsanullah Ihsan told The Associated Press that
Aatif had been warned “a number of times to stop anti-Taliban reporting, but he
didn’t do so. He finally met his fate.”

Several CPJ sources said they were skeptical Aatif had been
killed on the orders of the Taliban or for the publicly stated reasons. Aatif
told friends and relatives that he started receiving threats from military and
intelligence officials immediately after covering a November 2011 attack by
U.S.-led NATO forces on Pakistani army check posts at Salala, near the border
with Afghanistan. Twenty-four Pakistani soldiers died in the attack. Aatif
filed reports on the attack for Deewa Radio and took part in what are called
two-ways, which are live exchanges with the station’s studio journalists.

Aatif had spoken to local residents who said a Taliban
hideout was just two kilometers from the army check posts, a tribal area
journalist told CPJ. The Taliban’s proximity to the army posts was highly
sensitive information because it could have provided justification for the
American attack. An official with the U.S. National Security Council told CPJ
that a Special Forces team launched the attack after taking fire from the area
of the Pakistani check posts.

Deewa Radio said Aatif’s reports explained the geography of
the area but did not mention the Taliban. Deewa did not respond to CPJ’s
repeated queries seeking information on what was said by the station’s studio
journalists during their live two-way exchanges with Aatif. Deewa said no
archive of Aatif’s reports was available. Multiple CPJ sources in Pakistan and
the United States said the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate was believed
to be behind the murder. A Pakistani security official said the speculation was