The International Federation of
Journalists (IFJ) is shocked and horrified at the murder of Musa Khankhel, a
reporter for The News International daily and Geo News channel, in the
Matta sub-division of the Swat valley in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier
According to the Pakistan Federal
Union of Journalists (PFUJ), an IFJ affiliate, Musa Khankhel went missing on
February 18 in the Matta area, where he had gone to report on a series of
public events addressed by a senior cleric, Maulana Sufi Mohammad. His
bullet-riddled body was found in the area a few hours later.
In an apparently unrelated incident
on February 17, the Press Club in Wana, in the South
Waziristan tribal area, was destroyed in a bomb attack. No
casualties were reported, although the IFJ is concerned that the attack on a
meeting place for journalists appears to be a calculated move to dent
Musa Khankhel is the fourth
journalist killed in Swat since 2007, and the second journalist to be killed in
this year. Across Pakistan,
17 journalists have been killed since 2007, mostly in targeted attacks, although
some have died while covering hazardous events.
Swat has been a focus of attention
for journalists in recent days after federal and provincial governments arrived
at a ceasefire agreement with local militant groups.
The PFUJ informs the IFJ that the
day before his murder, Musa Khankhel and his brother Isa, a journalist with the
daily The Nation, were prevented from attending a press conference
dealing with the ceasefire process, addressed by a provincial NWFP minister.
“The IFJ condemns the murder of Musa
Khankhel, an accomplished young reporter, and the attack on the Wana Press Club,”
IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline
“We are horrified that the supposed
ceasefire in the NWFP has begun on such an ominous note for journalists in the
area and extend all solidarity to journalists joining PFUJ-led national protests
The IFJ continues to be alarmed at the
extreme dangers faced by media personnel in the tribal areas and NWFP, including
Swat, which has become the theatre of an intense conflict between Pakistan
state forces and fundamentalist militias.
On February 8, the Peshawar bureau chief of Royal TV, a private
news channel, was kidnapped as he was returning from the valley. Noorul Hasan’s captors
held him for three days and questioned him on his interview with the leader of one of
the fundamentalist militias.
“The IFJ notes that Pakistan’s
political leadership has reacted sharply to the murder of Musa Khankhel. We
welcome their concern and call on them to deliver on their promise that this
crime will be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice,” Park said.