A reporter for the Awami Awaz press group (which publishes the leading regional Sindhi-language daily) and president of the local press club in Padidan, in Naushahro Feroze district, Ali Sher Rajpar was slain in a chilling fashion on the evening of 4 May, when he was shot five times at close range just after locking the press club gate.
The complaint (known as a First Information Report) that his brother filed with the local police the next day names Padidan town committee chairperson Shakeel Ahmed Rajpar as the leading suspect. In several of his recent stories, Ali Sher Rajpar had linked this official to local corruption and had repeatedly been threatened by him.
Padidan press club members confirmed to RSF that Ali Sher Rajpar felt threatened in connection with his work and had unsuccessfully requested protection from the Naushahro Feroze district police just three days before being murdered.
“It is unacceptable that a journalist has been murdered after clearly informing the authorities of the threats being made against him,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.
“There are many suspicions surrounding this shocking murder and the possibility of complicity in more than one quarter cannot be ruled out. We therefore urge the highest Sindh province authorities to order a completely independent investigation so that nothing is left unclarified.”
Two journalists killed in space of four days
The newspaper Dawn has quoted unidentified local police sources as saying that the police arrested the reporter’s cousin, Habeeb Rajpar, the next day and were blaming the murder on a family quarrel.
Ali Sher Rajpar was murdered just four days after another journalist, Malik Amanullah Khan, the president of the local press club in the Parowa area of Dera Ismail Khan district, in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, was fatally shot four times in Parowa on 30 April. The police have not yet made any arrest.
After falling three places, Pakistan is ranked 142nd out of 180 countries in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index that RSF published last month, voicing concern about the “cycle of fear” that has taken hold in many countries.