Reporters Without Borders is appalled by a spate of attacks on media personnel in Pakistan that has left two dead and two wounded in the past 24 hours. The latest victim was Aftab Alam, a respected journalist who was gunned down in Karachi today by men on a motorcycle.
Aged 42, Aftab Alam was killed by a single shot to the head while in his car near his home after taking his children to school. He was pronounced dead after being rushed to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital. In the past he had worked for Geo TV, Samaa TV and other media outlets, but had not worked for the past year for health reasons. Alam’s murder came just hours after gunmen opened fire on a Geo TV van in Karachi last night, killing Arshad Ali Jaffari, a 45-year-old satellite broadcast engineer who had worked for Geo TV for years, and injuring the van’s driver, Anees Chauhan. The three gunmen fled on a motorcycle. Jaffari was hit seven times in the neck and chest and died of his wounds in Aga Khan hospital. Chauhan’s condition was described as stable. Abdul Azam Shinwari, a reporter for Pakistan Television, the national TV station, meanwhile sustained three gunshot injuries to the leg then he came under fire at around 11 p.m. yesterday in Peshawar, a northern city near the Afghan border. He had recently moved to Peshawar from Landi Kotal, his hometown in the nearby Tribal Areas, for security reasons. “Two dead and two wounded in two days – this grim toll will send yet another intimidatory message to the Pakistani media,” said Benjamin Ismaïl, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Asia-Pacific desk. “We offer our heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and we call on the authorities to deploy all available resources so that those responsible for these appalling acts of violence are brought to justice. More unpunished attacks on journalists would be a tragedy for all the Pakistani media and would result in more self-censorship.” Geo TV has often been the target of acts of intimidation and violence by the government, intelligence agencies and the Taliban. One of its star journalists, Hamid Mir, sustained serious gunshot injuries in a murder attempt in April 2014. Pakistan is ranked 159th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.