Relief at journalist’s freedom as IFJ Pakistan mission begins

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has welcomed news that rallies and meetings held across Pakistan in protest of the kidnapping of journalist Peshawar Suhail Qalandar, have ultimately led to his release.

According to reports, Qalandar was freed from his hostages on February 21, 50 days after his capture and two days after nation-wide protests were held by IFJ affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), to demand his release.

“Qalandar’s release is fantastic news for both his family and his colleagues following what must have been an extremely fearful and worrying time,” IFJ President Christopher Warren said.

Qalandar, resident editor of the Daily Express in Peshawar, was released on the eve of the IFJ-PFUJ International Mission for Press Freedom and Journalist Safety in Pakistan, which begins in Lahore today, February 22 and concludes in Islamabad on February 25.

The Mission, comprising representatives of the IFJ, PFUJ and other international press freedom and journalist organisations, is visiting Lahore, Peshawar and Islamabad to investigate attacks on journalists and press freedom.  It will meet with journalists and their family members, journalists’ and media organisations, and representatives of the Government, military and police.

Qalandar’s release, and the IFJ mission to Pakistan, comes in the wake of increasing instances of journalists being detained and tortured, escalating cases of unsolved murders and scores of violent attacks and threats against journalists across Pakistan.

Protest meetings in support of Qalandar organised by the PFUJ were held in Karachi, Islamabad, Multan, Lahore, Peshawar, Faislabad, and Abbottabad on February 19.

“The protests were a positive step towards finding Qalandar, who had been missing for far too long,” IFJ President Christopher Warren said.

The PFUJ reportedly warned the government that if anything happened to Qalandar whilst being held captive, some responsibility would fall on both the Federal and Provincial governments.

“Whilst it is great to see that the solidarity and perseverance of journalists in Pakistan helped free Qalandar, there is still a lot more required of the Pakistan government to ensure a safe working environment for journalists,” Warren said.

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

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