March 21, 2006
General Pervez Musharraf
President and Chief Executive of Pakistan
Via Email: CE@pak.gov.pk
Dear General Musharraf,
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the global organisation representing over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries, has grave concerns for the health and wellbeing of abducted journalist, Hayatullah Khan, and urges the Pakistani Government to instruct security authorities to prioritise solving his case.
Khan, a reporter for the Urdu language daily Ausuf and photographer for the European Pressphoto Agency (EPA) was kidnapped on December 6, 2005, by masked assailants near the tribal area of North Waziristan.
He was on his way to Khajoori in Nord Waziristan to cover a student demonstration when five people armed with AK-47 assault rifles reportedly stopped his vehicle and took him away in another vehicle.
In the months following his disappearance, colleagues and family members of the abducted journalist have urged the Pakistan Government and local authorities to fast track the inquiry immediately. However there has still been no word as to Khan’s fate.
According to sources, Khan’s abduction may have been linked to his work as a journalist. There has been a deteriorating situation in the tribal areas, with many journalists coming into dangerous situations. It was alleged that the kidnapping of Khan was in relation to his report on the account of the killing of senior Al Qaeda militant on December 1, 2005, which cast doubt on the official version of events and raised sensitive issues regarding the US military’s involvement in the fight against terrorism in Pakistan.
Khan’s kidnapping followed the brutal murder of Pakistani journalist Nasir Afridi and highlights the safety crisis in Pakistan. Areas such as North and South Waziristan have been deemed “No Go Areas,” for foreign and local correspondents. Journalists reporting from these areas have reported threats by both militants and intelligence agencies.
While violence, intimidation and journalists’ safety remains in question a truly independent press in Pakistan is unattainable. In the environment of fear currently pervading the tribal areas of Pakistan, an independent media is unable to report the stories that need to be told.
Therefore we urge the Pakistani Government to ensure that investigators are doing all that they can to find Khan and bring those responsible for his disappearance to justice.