Reporters Without Borders is appalled to learn that Mushtaq Khand, a reporter for privately-owned Dharti TV, was killed when gunmen opened fire on a public meeting held by the ruling Pakistan People’s Party in Khairpur, in the southeastern province of Sindh, on the evening of 7 October.
Other journalists sustained gunshot injuries and one, a reporter for Sachal TV, is in a critical condition. Khand’s death brings to nine the number of journalists who have killed in connection with their work in Pakistan since the start of the year.
"This attack targeted not only members of the Pakistan People’s Party but also the journalists who had come to cover the meeting and who were in a different area from the PPP members," Reporters Without Borders said, offering its condolences to Khand’s family and friends.
"We welcome the announcement that a special team has been created to investigate the attack and that around 10 arrests have already been made, but we insist on the need to identify and arrest those behind it. Paying for medical treatment for the injured or promising compensation for the victims or their families does not exempt the authorities from the obligation to arrest all those involved and ensure they receive exemplary sentences."
Reporters Without Borders added: "The almost systematic impunity enjoyed by those who mastermind violence against the media is responsible for the significant increase in self-censorship that can be seen throughout Pakistan."
At least seven people, including six PPP members, were killed and 12 participants were wounded when 10 or 12 gunmen opened on those attended the meeting, which was organized by Nafisa Shah, a member of parliament and the daughter of Sindh chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah.
G.M. Jamali, the president of the Karachi Union of Journalists (which is affiliated to Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists), said that, after firing on the politicians, the gunmen targeted journalists because "they went to cover the meeting." One of the three injured journalists was shot five times and is now in a local hospital’s intensive care unit.
Voicing its support for the protest meetings that media and journalists’ associations are organizing in Sindh and the rest of the country to express their outrage at the attack, Reporters Without Borders reiterates its appeal to the authorities to take concrete measures to increase protection for journalists while they are working.
Journalists are exposed to violence throughout Pakistan. In the most recent previous case, Abdul Haq Baluch, a reporter for ARY News TV and two newspapers, the Daily Awan and Tawar, was gunned down in Khuzdar, in the southwestern province of Balochistan, on 29 September.
Eight days before that, on 21 Septembre, ARY News TV driver Aamir Liaqat was fatally shot in the chest during a protest against the anti-Islamic video "Innocence of Muslims" in the northern city of Peshawar.