January 13, 2011, in Karachi, Pakistan
Babar, 28, was shot shortly after his story on gang violence aired on the country's most widely watched broadcaster, Geo TV. At least two assailants intercepted the journalist's car at 9:20 p.m. in Karachi's Liaquatabad area, shooting him four times in the head and once in the neck, Geo TV Managing Director Azhar Abbas told CPJ. Witnesses said one assailant spoke to Babar briefly before opening fire, Abbas said.
In April, police announced the arrests of five people and said additional suspects were at large. In all, police said, at least 17 men were involved in the murder plot. Police, based on statements given by the suspects, described a plot organized by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, or MQM, Pakistan's third-largest political party and considered its most influential secular political organization. A Joint Investigation Team report said the killing had been ordered by Agha Murtaza, a South Africa-based MQM operative. Zulfikar Mirza, home minister of Sindh, was outspoken at the time in saying that MQM operatives were responsible for the killing.
Local journalists believe the killing was prompted by Babar's aggressive reporting on violent political turf wars, extortion, targeted killings, electricity theft, and land-grabbing.
Just weeks after Babar was slain, several people connected to the investigation were murdered. They included a police informant, two police constables, and the brother of an investigating officer. One of the constables, Asif Rafiq, was on the scene when Babar was murdered and had identified the plotters' vehicle. On November 10, 2012, two gunmen aboard a motorcycle killed Haidar Ali, the only remaining witness in the case, near his home in the Soldier Bazaar area of Karachi. He was due to testify in court two days later.
The original prosecutors in the case--Muhammad Khan Buriro and Mobashir Mirza--told CPJ that they were threatened and eventually fired. They fled the country in late 2011.
Job: Broadcast Reporter
Local or Foreign: Local
Type of Death: Murder
Suspected Source of Fire: Political Group
Taken Captive: No
- In Karachi, a trail of death and impunity in Babar case, November 16, 2012
- Pakistan's response to UNESCO shows true colors, April 17, 2012
- Attacks on the Press in 2011: Pakistani Media Look Inward , February 21, 2012
- One year on: Remembering Wali Khan Babar, January 13, 2012
- A killing field: The targeting of journalists in Pakistan, September 1, 2011