Zeeshan Butt

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Zeeshan Butt, a reporter for the independent Urdu-language daily Nawa-i-Waqt, was shot dead while interviewing a local government official, Imran Cheema, at the official’s office on March 27, 2018, according to news reports.

During Butt’s meeting with Cheema, the journalist called Cheema’s superior, District Council Chairperson Hina Arshad Waraich, and said that Cheema had threatened to kill him [Butt], according to an audiotape of the conversation that was later cited in news reports.

According to Dawn, three gunshots were audible on the tape and then Butt fell silent.

CPJ was unable to determine if there were other people in the room with Butt and Cheema. 

Cheema fled the scene; the journalist died from bullet injuries at Cheema’s office, Geo TV reported.

According to the reports, Butt was interviewing Cheema, union council chairperson for the town of Begowala in Punjab province, about taxes on local shop owners.

Phone records show that the journalist called police for help before calling Waraich, saying Cheema was threatening him, but that police failed to respond, according to news reports.

Butt and Cheema had previously run as opposing candidates in municipal elections, according to Geo TV. CPJ was unable to determine for which position they contested.

Police have arrested three suspects in relation to the case, but have not apprehended Cheema, according to Geo TV. Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered the Punjab police on April 14 to arrest the key suspect within 10 days, according to Geo TV.