IFJ demands authorities step up search for missing Pakistan editor

<font size="2"></font>The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has called for action in the case of a Pakistan news editor who has been missing for one month.

According to IFJ affiliate, the Pakistan Federation of Union of Journalist (PFUJ), Sohail Qalander, 28, from the Daily Express, Pakistan’s second largest Urdu language newspaper, disappeared on January 2, near the Khyber Agency tribal area.

“It’s a terrible reality in Pakistan that the disappearance of journalists and editors is so often related to their line of work,” IFJ President Christopher Warren said.

“The authorities must do more to curb this terrible trend, which sees so many journalists harmed because of their work, and the IFJ calls for a transparent and independent investigation into Qalander’s disappearance, to ensure he is returned immediately and unharmed,” Warren said. 

According to local reports, Qalanader may have been targeted for political reasons, and colleagues have reportedly said they believed he may be held covertly in government custody.

Qalander’s disappearance comes in the wake of three cases last year, where Pakistani authorities detained three journalists, in separate incidents, without charge for extended periods of time.

Last month another Pakistan newspaper editor, Makhdoom Rafiq, of the daily Nijat of Sukkur, was reportedly gunned down in Khora Town.

“These statistics are deeply concerning and we have grave fears for journalists’ safety in Pakistan,” said the president of the IFJ, the organisation representing more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries.

This follows more reports of police brutality, after more than a dozen journalists and camera operators were injured in a clash with police after a hotel bomb blast in Islamabad on January 26.

Seven journalists were hospitalised in the lathi-charge, and police also damaged camera equipment and tried to confiscate film.

“These recent attacks, and the lack of action in the disappearance of Qalander, indicates Pakistan is sliding further away from a free and open press, and the government must intervene to try and salvage Pakistan’s appalling record of press freedom,’’ Warren.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 115 countries