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Murder of journalist sparks safety fears

Five reporters killed since new year

Murder of journalist sparks safety fears
A heavily guarded police station in Peshawar reporter, Peshawar

March 1, 2013

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Journalists  today demanded extra security after a correspondent working for a private news channel was gunned down in a tribal area known to be a hotbed of Taliban and al-Qaeda activity.

Malik Mumtaz Khan was shot dead in the town of Miranshah, North Waziristan, on Wednesday as he was returning home. No one has so far claimed responsibility for the killing.

“Reporting in these areas has become a major threat. We are not against anybody and simply portray reality, but our worries increase when no killers are arrested,” said Pervez Iqbal, a Peshawar-based reporter.

Many districts in North Waziristan are considered no-go areas and strongholds of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Thousands of local people have still to return home after fleeing military operations against the militants launched in 2009.

“Armed militants interrogate and abuse us at checkpoints when we go there. Local connections, not language, can save you,” said Iqbal, who has been a reporter for more than three decades.

Pakistan has been ranked the most dangerous country for journalists in South Asia, according to a report by the South Asia Media Commission.

Of the 25 journalists killed in South Asia last year, 13 were from Pakistan, the report states.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has condemned Mumtaz Khan’s murder.

“There is a continuation of a disturbing trend of increasing violence against journalists. The fact that Mumtaz is the fifth journalist to be killed in the first two months of 2013 highlights the vulnerability and the threats those in the journalism profession face,” commission chairman Zohra Yusuf said on Thursday.

“This murder and past episodes are direct attacks on freedom of the media. The response of both the federal and provincial governments has been completely inadequate as journalists continue to be attacked with impunity,” he said in a statement.

“We call upon the government to bring the culprits to justice and further take all necessary measures to guarantee the safety of journalists in order to allow … them to work freely and without intimidation.”

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