Reporters Without Borders offers its condolences to the family and colleagues of Abdul Razaq Gul, a TV reporter based in Turbat, in the far south of the southwestern province of Balochistan, whose body was found on the morning of 19 May. Medical sources said he had been shot in the forehead and chest after apparently being tortured.
The organization’s concern about the safety of Pakistani journalists has also been heightened by an attempt to kidnap a journalist on 7 May in Peshawar, in the northern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and by an attack on three reporters by police in the same province on 11 May.
“The authorities must work actively to protect journalists, who keep on being the victims of physical attacks, threats, kidnap attempts and even murder,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Gul is the fifth journalist to be murdered in Pakistan since the start of the year. Pakistan has been the world’s deadliest country for the media for the past two years, with a total of 26 journalists killed. It is time the government put an end to the bloodshed.”
Murder in Balochistan, kidnap attempt in Peshawar
Gul was abducted as he was returning home by motorcycle on the evening of 18 May and his body was found near Turbat’s main hospital the next morning. Aged around 30, he had worked for Express News TV since 2002. He was also secretary of the Turbat Press Club.
The Balochistan Union of Journalists (BUJ) declared three days for mourning for Gul, while the Council of All Balochistan Press Clubs announced that it would organize protests if those responsible for his murder had not been identified by 1 June.
Gul’s murder recalls those of Tariq Kamal and Murtaza Razvi, journalists based in the neighbouring province of Sindh, who were found dead on 9 May and 19 April respectively, in each case a few days after they were abducted. The other journalists murdered this year in Pakistan were Aurengzeb Tunio, on 10 May in Sindh, and Mukarram Khan Atif, on 17 January in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The attempt to abduct journalist Zahid Merokhel on 7 May in Peshawar took place on a road near the historic fort of Bali Hisar. Three men grabbed him, gave him a severe beating and bundled him into their pick-up. It was only after the pick-up developed a fault that they dumped him at the side of the road.
Merokhel said he thought the kidnap attempt was prompted by a story he wrote for the 5 May issue of the Urdu-language newspaper Nai Baat about the alleged involvement of government officials in a prisoner’s escape.
Police attack on three journalists
Freelance journalist Sher Ali Kha, Geo News TV cameraman Siraj Ali and Pakhtunkhwa Times reporter Shabbir Ahmed were attacked by police while covering a demonstration in Charsadda District (in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province) on 11 May. The police wanted to prevent them filming clashes between police and protesters. Kha sustained head and hand injuries and had to spend four days in hospital.
They filed a complaint on 14 May, as soon as Kha was discharged from hospital. Journalists staged demonstrations in Charsadda on 19 May and in Peshawar on 21 May in protest against the attack.
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.