Killers strike in mosque
Mukarram Khan Aatif - Pakistan - Killed, 17 January 2012
In the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of northwestern Pakistan, journalists are not safe even when praying in a mosque.
Reporter Mukarram Khan Aatif - a native of the Mohmand tribal district - was at evening prayer in Shabqadar, close to his home, when two masked men rode up on motorcycles and shot him in the head and chest before riding away. Mukarram Khan died of his wounds on the way to hospital in nearby Peshawar.
Mukarram Khan worked in the restless tribal regions of Pakistan, close to the border with Afghanistan. He was a journalist with Deewa Radio, a Pashto-language radio channel of the Voice of America’s Pashto-language service, and he also reported for the Urdu-language news and current affairs television channel Dunya News.
Shortly after Mukarram Khan’s murder, Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesperson for the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan - the Pakistani Taliban organisation commanded by Emir Hakimullah Mehsud - declared by phone that the militant organization was behind the assassination of the journalist, without specifying in any detail the reasons for killing him.
For security reasons, following threats earlier on his life Mukarram Khan had previously moved from the Mohmand tribal district to Charsaddan, just north of Peshawar.
Mukarram Khan’s colleagues spoke of how he had received anonymous phone messages before his death. These had instructed him how to handle certain events in his reporting, they told representatives of Reporters Without Borders.
Owing to the weakened security situation there, many journalists have moved away from the Pakistani tribal areas.
According to Reporters Without Borders, in 2011 Pakistan was the most dangerous place in the world to carry a Press badge. In that year, ten journalists were killed while carrying out their work.
According to Shamim Shahid, the former President of the Peshawar Press Club, a total of 29 journalists have been murdered in Pakistan since 2004.
This article was originally printed in the Finnish newspaper Ilta Sanomat. The content of the article may have been modified and/or updated as information became available following the date of publication.
UNESCO encourages all media outlets to inform the public of violations of press freedom; to raise awareness of issues impacting the safety of journalists around the world; and to pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.
The original article in Finnish can be found here.