The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is gravely concerned for the safety of Pakistani journalist Riaz Mengal who has been missing for 21 days.
Before his disappearance, Mengal, who is based in Balochistan, had written articles for the newspaper Intikhab about trafficking of stolen cars. Local reports stated that Mengal received death threats because of his investigation for these articles.
IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said the risks facing working journalists in Pakistan are serious and should not be underestimated.
“Mengal’s disappearance is yet another example of intimidation and violence that muzzles journalists every day in Pakistan,” she said. “As long as journalists are persecuted because of what they write, press freedom and the public’s right to know are under serious threat.”
The Balochistan Union of Journalists and the Quetta Press Club (QPC) have staged protest rallies calling for Mengal’s release, urging the authorities to find those responsble as a matter of urgency.
“After the passing of nearly three weeks, the journalist community as well as the family members of Riaz Mengal are worried about his safety,” said Shahzada Zulfiqar, President of the QPC.
The IFJ demands that authorities launch a thorough investigation into the disappearance of Mengal and take appropriate action against those responsible.
Concerns for the safety of Mengal and all journalists working in Pakistan have escalated after the bomb blasts in Karachi on Friday in which 138 people were killed.
The IFJ expresses its condolences for the family and colleagues of Muhammad Arif (Arif Khan), a cameraman for the private ARY One World television, who was among those killed.
Other media workers injured in the blasts directed at Benazir Bhutto included Rashid Ali Panhwar, a reporter associated with the state-owned Associated Press of Pakistan (APP); Talat Anjum, a cameraman with APNA television; Syed Athar Hussain, a photographer with the daily Jurrat; and Arif Hasan, a cameraman from Dawn TV.
The IFJ is extremely concerned at the increasing danger faced by journalists in conducting their work in Pakistan and stresses that the protection of journalists is essential for protecting press freedom and the rights of media workers.
For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 114 countries