Pakistan Government Has Failed Its People, As Journalists Beaten And One Killed

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is outraged by the murder of Maqbool Hussain Sail, correspondent of the news agency On-Line, who died on the way to hospital after being shot by unidentified attackers on September 15.

According to IFJ affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Maqbool Hussain Sail was reportedly on his way to the house of the local leader of the opposition Pakistan People Party when he was shot.

“Sail is the third Pakistani media worker to be killed this year, and with Pakistan’s history of journalist abductions and assaults and on top of the disgraceful bashing of a senior journalist two days ago on the orders of a Member of Parliament, it seems the Pakistan government has failed in its duty to enure journalist safety and prove the people of Pakistan with a free media,” IFJ President Christopher Warren said.

The IFJ is also deeply concerned at news police attacked journalists at a public meeting of a religious organisation in Lahore on September 17, and that a journalist has been implicated in a triple murder case.

According to the PFUJ, Wadood Mushtaq, from ARYONE World, received serious wounds on his face and jaw, ATV's Malik Zahid and Mohannad Nazi suffered internal injuries and a fractured arm respectively.

According to information from the PFUJ, Idress Rathore, a police officer from the Shezad Town Police Station in Islamabad has implicated Shakeel Anjum, a reporter with The News, in a triple murder case.

Anjum has reportedly been critical of Idress Rathore in his articles and has faced threats since he covered a story on the extra-judicial killing of two men in May 2005. Anjum’s son was recently injured when unidentified attacks opened fire on his house.

“It is reprehensible enough that in six years the Pakistan government cannot ensure compliance for an award for improved wages for journalists, but they are also failing in their responsibility to protect the basic safety of journalists,” Warren said.

The IFJ, the organisation representing more than 500,000 journalists in over 115 countries, demands a full investigation into the murder of Sail and the police brutality against journalists and for the government to ensure those responsible for these terrible crimes are brought to justice.

The IFJ also calls for an independent investigation into the allegations against Shakeel Anjum.

The PFUJ included Sail’s murder in their countrywide protest sit-in held on Friday in protest of the non-implementation of the Seventh Wage Award, which would improve working conditions for journalists. Fourteen journalists’ organisations from 10 countries were involved in the protest.

In a related matter, the Pakistan government has also not yet released the findings of the investigation into the murder of senior journalist Hayatullah Khan, whose body was discovered on June 16 six months after his abduction.

He was allegedly abducted after reporting on an explosion that killed senior Al Qaeda member, Maza Rabia.

Munir Mengal of television station Baloch Voice and Mehruddin Marri of the Sindhi-language daily newspaper Kawish, are still missing.

“Enough is enough. It is time the government take action about the terrible safety and economic situation for journalists in Pakistan,” Warren said.

The IFJ reiterates its calls for protections for journalists, for independent, transparent and effective investigations into Sail’s murder, the Shakeel Anjum case and the unsolved abductions, for an end to police brutality against journalists, for the immediate release of the report into Hayatullah Khan’s death, and for the implementation of the Seventh Wage Award.

For more information please contact IFJ Asia Pacific +61 2 9333 0919

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