Wali Khan Babar, a 29-year-old reporter employed by Geo News TV, was shot dead last night in Karachi, a few hours after covering a police investigation in Pehlawan Goth, a violent neighbourhood in the eastern part of the city.
Babar was the first reporter to be killed in the field this year in Pakistan, one of the world’s deadliest countries for the media. His murder, just nine days after the fatal shooting of Punjab governor and media owner Salman Taseer, does not bode well for 2011.
Reporters Without Borders offers its condolences to Babar’s family and colleagues and supports the calls by President Asif Zardari and interior minister Rehamn Malik for a report from the Karachi authorities about his murder. The Karachi police must conduct a thorough investigation and do everything possible to protect witnesses.
The police said they found Babar’s body in his car with five gunshot wounds in the head and neck. The head of Geo News TV said he regarded the murder as a “targeted killing.” No group has so far claimed responsibility.
The former head of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists compared Babar’s murder to that of Musa Khan, a young Geo News TV reporter who was gunned down in February 2009.
Colleagues described Babar as “hard working and knowledgeable.” A Geo News TV producer said he was “passionate about his stories and took lot of pains to cover them.”