Reporters Without Borders is saddened and appalled to learn that Malik Mumtaz Khan, a journalist based in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, was shot dead by gunmen on 27 February.
“We offer our condolences to Khan’s family and friends and we urge the Pakistani authorities to quickly take stock of the dangers that journalists incur just by doing their job in the Tribal Areas,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“The authorities must deploy effective resources in order not only to bring those responsible for this appalling murder to justice, but also to prevent any recurrence of this kind of violence.”
A journalist for the past 15 years, Khan worked for the television news channel Geo News and the Jang newspaper group. He was recently elected president of the Miranshah press club.
The Tribal Union of Journalists (TUJ) said Khan was on his way to his home near Miranshah when he was gunned down by armed men waiting in a vehicle with tinted windows of the kind widely used by militants.
North Waziristan has a particularly large presence of armed Islamists in part because the army has never waged an offensive against them, as it has in other parts of the Tribal Areas. As a result, it is very hard for journalists to work freely.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Mumtaz Khan,” TUJ president Nasir Mohmand told Reporters Without Borders. He said Khan was the 13th TUJ member to have been killed and called on the government to protect journalists in the Tribal Areas.
Some local journalists said Khan had been receiving threats for some time. No group has so far claimed responsibility for his murder.
Geo News said Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for the armed group Tehreek-e-Taliban, denied that it was in any way involved. Tehreek-e-Taliban previously recognized its responsibility for last year’s murder of another journalist in the Tribal Areas, Mukarram Khan.
Malik Mumtaz Kahn’s murder brings to four the number of journalists killed in Pakistan since the start of 2013. He is the second journalist to be killed in North Waziristan, following Hayatullah Khan in June 2006.
Pakistan is ranked 159th out of 179 countries in the 2013 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.