Pakistan

2013

Reports   |   Pakistan

Roots of Impunity

1. The Murder of Wali Khan Babar

On January 13, 2011, Wali Khan Babar, a 28-year-old correspondent for Geo TV, was driving home after covering another day of gang violence in Karachi. Babar was an unusual face on the airwaves: Popular and handsome, he was a Pashtun from Zhob in Baluchistan near the border with Afghanistan. For Geo, it was a rare boon to have a Pashtun in Karachi, and so the station planned to send him abroad for training to become an anchor.

Reports   |   Pakistan

Roots of Impunity

Sidebar: Verbatim: Threats, Promises, and Fears

“No half-hearted police measures or words of consolation from the highest offices in the land will suffice in the aftermath of the brutal treatment meted out to journalist Umar Cheema of The News.”

Editorial in the newspaper Dawn condemning the September 2010 abduction and beating of Cheema. Intelligence agents were suspected in the attack. No arrests were made.

Reports   |   Pakistan

Roots of Impunity

2. A Death in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

On the evening of January 17, 2012, a year and four days after Geo TV reporter Wali Khan Babar was gunned down on a busy street in Karachi, Mukarram Khan Aatif, a senior journalist in the tribal region of Pakistan, was offering evening prayers at a mosque near his home in Shabqadar. Two men approached and fired three times, shooting him in the chest and head. One of the bullets passed through Aatif and injured the imam as well. Aatif was pronounced dead at the hospital that night.

Reports   |   Pakistan

Roots of Impunity

Sidebar: For VOA Reporters, a Difficult Balance

The Taliban’s claim that they murdered Voice of America reporter Mukarram Khan Aatif because he failed to present their perspective in his stories was deeply troubling—if not terrifying—to the local reporters of the U.S. government-funded news agency.

Reports   |   Pakistan

Roots of Impunity

3. Intimidation, Manipulation, and Retribution

A couple of years ago, Hamid Mir, Najam Sethi, Umar Cheema, and other prominent figures in the news media began going public with the threats they were receiving from intelligence agencies. It was a risky calculation, but the silence, they reasoned, encouraged intimidation and allowed impunity to persist.

Reports   |   Pakistan

Roots of Impunity

Sidebar: ‘In case something happens to me’

Seven months before his murder, Asia Times Online reporter Saleem Shahzad was summoned to a meeting with Rear Adm. Adnan Nazir, director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate’s media wing. During the October 17, 2010, meeting, Shahzad said, he was pressured to retract a story the agency considered embarrassing and urged to disclose his sources for the piece.

Reports   |   Pakistan

Roots of Impunity

Conclusion

The murder of Saleem Shahzad in May 2011 galvanized journalists across Pakistan in a way that few other events have. For a short time their power as a “union” was felt. They secured a commission of inquiry. They named ISI officers who had threatened Shahzad and many other journalists. They detailed those encounters in a public record available on the Internet. The resulting report offers a series of promising recommendations, saying in part:

Reports   |   Pakistan

Roots of Impunity

Recommendations

The Committee to Protect Journalists offers the following recommendations to Pakistani authorities, the Pakistani news media, and the international community.

Reports   |   Pakistan

Roots of Impunity

Appendix

Journalists Killed 2003-2012: Motive Confirmed

CPJ research has determined that 42 journalists were killed in Pakistan in direct relation to their work from January 1, 2003, through December 31, 2012. An additional 12 journalists were killed in unclear circumstances during the time period. Capsule reports on each death follow, beginning with cases in which CPJ has confirmed a work-related motive.


Reports   |   Multimedia, Pakistan

Video: Roots of Impunity

The unsolved murders of three Pakistani journalists reflect a government that is not guaranteeing the rule of law or fundamental human rights. CPJ's Bob Dietz narrates. Animation by Dave Mayers and production by Dana Chivvis

Read our accompanying special report, "Roots of Impunity," which examines the culture of anti-press violence in Pakistan.

2013

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