Two Pakistani journalists were murdered by unidentified assailants on 1 and 2 July. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its Pakistan affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) have urged the Pakistani government to arrest the perpetrators without delay.
Two Pakistani journalists were assassinated in the space of two days last week. Iftikhar Ahmed and Ishtiaq Sodharo were killed in broad daylight on 1 and 2 July.
According to eyewitnesses, Iftikhar Ahmed, a reporter for the Daily Express, was travelling to his workplace in Shakir Market, Charsadda, on 2 July after leaving a mosque when unidentified gunmen opened fire, killing him on the spot.
Ahmed’s body was sent to the Tehsil Headquarters Hospital Shabqadar before being handed over to his family. Bullet shells were also seized from the scene and transferred to Peshawar for forensic analysis.
The journalist’s brother, Hazrat Bilal, filed an FIR, at Shabqadar Police Station under Section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code against the unknown assailants. Police said they are investigating the motive behind the journalist’s death, including personal hostility.
On cop’s order?
In a separate incident on 1 July, gunmen killed local journalist Ishtiaq Sodharo, associated with the Sindhi weekly Chinag and a member of the Ranipur Press Club, in the Kumb region of Khairpur, Sindh province, Pakistan. Sodharo was rushed to hospital but died as a result of his injuries. Sodhoro’s wife said her husband was murdered on the orders of Imamuddin, a police officer at Ranipur police station, by the officer’s accomplices.
Police filed an FIR the same day at Kunb Police Station, under multiple sections of the Pakistan Penal Code. According to the FIR and Sodhoro’s wife, the perpetrators attacked Sodharo husband outside his home while he was performing maintenance work. Pir Bux, Saen Bux, Nabi Bux, Nazeer Hussain, and Zahid Hussain, allegedly attacked Sodhoro following an argument, with three of those identified arrested.
Sodhoro’s relatives and friends maintained that the primary offender, Imamuddin, was still at large and had not been taken into custody, mounting a demonstration in the city demanding that the assailants be apprehended immediately. The reason for the murder is still unknown.
Condemnation pours in
Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PUFJ) President GM Jamali and Secretary General Rana Muhammad Azeem condemned the two killings and demanded that law enforcement agencies arrest the culprits swiftly. PFUJ also reiterated the necessity of providing increased security for working journalists.
According to the International Federation of Journalists’ (IFJ) South Asia Press Freedom Report 2021-22, Pakistani journalists and media workers have faced a continuing spate of physical attacks, resulting in the murder of five journalists from May 2021 to April 2022, including a citizen journalist. The report found that incidents of assault, arrest, abduction, legal harassment and intimidation against the media have also been growing in Pakistan.
The IFJ said: “Pakistan’s government must take appropriate measures to ensure journalists’ safety and security, as required by law, and act to reduce assaults on journalists so that they may carry out their work without fear. The IFJ condemns the murders of Iftikhar Ahmed and Ishtiaq Sodharo and calls on the Pakistani authorities to fulfil their international obligations under Pakistan’s constitution to safeguard press freedom.”
Both IFJ and PUFJ have urged the government to implement to ensure the safety of journalists in Pakistan by strengthening security measures.