Reporters Without Borders is alarmed by the rate at which journalists are being killed in Pakistan and offers its condolences to the family and colleagues of the latest victim, Vsh TV reporter Abdul Qadir Hajizai, who was gunned down in the southwestern province of Balochistan on 28 May. He was the sixth journalist to be murdered this year in Pakistan.
“Journalists have been killed in connection with their work at a rate of more than one a month since the start of 2012,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The authorities cannot continue to turn a blind eye to this.
“Effective measures to protect media personnel must be adopted as a matter of urgency. At the same time, the investigations into the murders of Hajizai and the previous victims must not be abandoned. The cycle of impunity must be ended as soon as possible.”
Hajizai was shot by two men on a motorcycle as he was returning to his home in Basima, in Washuk District (about 200 km southwest of the provincial capital of Quetta). He rushed to a nearby hospital, where he died of his injuries. He had worked for Vsh TV, a privately-owned Balochi-language station, for the past two years.
His murder was claimed the next day by the Baloch Liberation Front (BLF), an armed separatist group. The Daily Jang quoted a BLF spokesman as saying Hajizai was killed because he was a “government informer.” Vsh TV director Ovais Iqbal Baluch told Reporters Without Borders he was unaware of Hajizai receiving any threats prior to his murder.
In a separate development on 28 May in Turbat, in the far south of the province, gunmen opened fire on the home of Turbat Press Club president Arshad Akhtar, causing no injuries. The shooting came just 10 days after the abduction and murder of Turbat Press Club secretary Abdul Razaq Gul, whose body was found on the morning of 19 May.
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) organized a demonstration outside the Quetta Press Club yesterday in protest against the latest violence against journalists, while the Balochistan Union of Journalists (BUJ) called on the provincial government to take concrete measures to protect media personnel.
Pakistan is ranked 151st out of 179 countries in the 2011-2012 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, while Balochistan was classified as one of the world’s 10 most dangerous places for journalists by Reporters Without Borders last year.