News

May 28, 2020

Pakistan: RSF calls for independent investigation into journalist’s murder

Zulfiqar Mandrani had received several death threats in connection with his coverage of drug trafficking in Sindh province. On the right, a Pakistani customs officer oversees the destruction of drugs in Karachi, the provincial capital, on 13 December 2019 (Images: photo provided by the family - Asif Hassan / AFP).
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the authorities in southeastern Pakistan’s Sindh province to send a special independent team to investigate this week’s murder of a journalist in Dodapur, a small town near the city of Larkana, because there is every reason to doubt local police claims that it was an “honour killing.”

After Zulfiqar Mandrani, a reporter for the Sindhi-language dailies Kawish and Koshish, was found on 26 May with two bullets in his head and the marks of torture across his back, the Larkana police issued a statement the same day claiming to have arrested two suspects, Riaz Hussain Daiyo and Nazir Daiyo, who had confessed to killing him for reasons of “honour.”

 

This account is disputed by Mandrani’s father, Rahim Jam Mandrani, who filed a complaint with the police today – of which RSF has seen a copy – naming several different suspects including a police officer linked to a local drug trafficker whose activities the journalist had been investigating.

 

“My son had been receiving death threats from the suspects for several days before his murder,” the father said.

 

Real motive ignored

 

Kawish News Network news director Ghulam Mustafa Jarwar told RSF that he could not believe that Mandrani was the victim of an honour killing. “The police are just telling us what the two arrested persons have confessed,” he said. “There is no investigation by police to find the real motive behind the murder.”

 

“The initial findings reported by the local police are clearly unreliable because everything is being done to ensure that those behind Zulfiqar Mandrani’s murder get off scot-free,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.

 

“It is absolutely unacceptable that the death of a journalist who was murdered because of his reporting is being passed off as an honour killing. We call on Sindh province chief minister Syed Murad Ali Shah to send an independent team from Karachi to investigate this shocking murder.”

 

Parallel justice

 

The perpetrators of a murder in Pakistan can escape criminal justice if they can pass it off as an honour killing because a panchayat, a sort of village council of elders, may then try the case and the perpetrators can get off scot-free if they obtain the family’s forgiveness – by paying financial compensation, if necessary.

 

Mandrani is the second journalist to be murdered in Sindh province since the start of the year. The body of Aziz Memon, who also worked for Kawish News Network, was found floating in a canal with wire tied around his neck on 16 February.

 

Pakistan is ranked 145th out of 180 countries and territories in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index, three places lower than in 2019.