Another Assault on Journalist in Pakistan Condemned

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) in condemning the assault of a journalist in Islamabad late on June 18.


Waqar Kiani, 32, who works for local and international newspapers including the UK Guardian, said he was intercepted by four men wearing police uniforms, according to local news reports.


Kiani was severely beaten after being forced from his car. He was later discharged from hospital after treatment for injuries to his chest and back.


The assault came five days after the Guardian published a report by Kiani in which he described being abducted and tortured before being dumped about 200 kilometres from Islamabad, in July 2008. He suspected his attackers on that occasion were linked to intelligence agencies.


Kiani believes recent coverage of his report on a local television channel triggered the June 18 assault, according to the Guardian, which had withheld the story for three years until June 13.


The attack occurred almost three weeks after Syed Saleem Shahzad disappeared in Islamabad on May 29, two days after publishing a report into alleged links between Al-Qaeda and Pakistani naval officials. Shahzad’s body was found about 150 kilometres away on May 31.


“The IFJ is alarmed by increasing reports of attacks on journalists in Pakistan,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said. “This disturbing trend underscores the urgent need for a prompt and detailed inquiry at the very least into the abduction and murder of Syed Saleem Shahzad.”  


Late last week, the Federal Government ceded to PFUJ demands that it establish a judicial commission headed by a Supreme Court justice to investigate Shahzad’s case, following nation-wide demonstrations and a sit-in by journalists at the Federal Parliament in Islamabad.


However, while the Government said that Justice Saqib Nisar would head the inquiry, Nisar said the decision about whom to appoint must be up to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.


The PFUJ has filed a petition with the Supreme Court for constitution of the commission.


PFUJ secretary-general Amin Yousuf stressed that an increasing trend of targeting journalists for the content of their journalistic work must be addressed. He demanded the Government ensure security for Kiani and all journalists “at all costs”.


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


The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries


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