Friday, August 23, 2013

Mutilated Body of Journalist Found; Killers Unknown

Haji Abdul Razzak (Courtesy RSF)


The mutilated body of another murdered journalist – Haji Abdul Razzak of the Balochi-language daily, Tawar – who went missing in March was discovered in Karachi on Wednesday, August 21. He had been tortured to death.

According to the Paris-based Reporters without Borders (RSF) Razzak’s body, found with that of another unnamed person’s, was so badly mutilated that the family took 24 hours to identify it.

“Journalists in Balochistan and the Tribal Areas are constantly the targets of intimidation and violence, and the impunity enjoyed by those who murder them just sustains this climate of terror. The authorities must end it at once by pursuing this investigation to its conclusion,” RSF said.

Four Balochs – Imran Shaikh, Saifur Rehman and Mohammad Iqbal killed a double bombing in Quetta and Mehmood Ahmed Afridi gunned down in Karat – are among a total of seven journalists killed in Pakistan this year, RSF reported.

Meanwhile, the statement by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) delineates the intimidating environment in which Razzak and other journalists work in Pakistan. CPJ said that Razzak had left the Tawar briefly after a journalist from the same newspaper, Javed Naseer Rind’s body was found in November 2011. Rind’s body had bullet wounds in the head and chest and bore marks of torture. But Razzak returned to work in 2012.

CPJ said that at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club, Razzak’s family members had accused “Pakistani intelligence agencies of being responsible for the abduction, but did not elaborate.” RSF designates intelligence services with two others – Mullah Mohamad Omar and the Balochi separatists – as “predators of the media” in Pakistan.

Describing the daily Tawar as a “Urdu-language pro-Baluch nationalist newspaper,” CPJ says it “is known for its coverage of the many conflicts between rival groups and the government.” Both media watchdogs said Razzak was linked to a political party, with the CPJ going on to say it was the Balochi National Movement. RSF urged the Pakistani authorities to investigate Razzak’s murder not only to establish the motive but “determine whether it was linked to his work as a journalist.”

“Journalists from Baluchistan face pressure from a number of sources: pro-Taliban groups and Pakistani security forces and intelligence agencies, as well as Baluch separatists and state-sponsored anti-separatist militant groups,” CPJ observed

In an interview to the Baloch Hal, well-known Balochi journalist Shezada Zulfiqar, replying to the question why journalists in Balochistan are so vulnerable replied, “Because they are before the public. They also go to separatist leaders, intelligence agencies, land lords, Sardars, Nawabs, etc. In these circumstances, journalists should be very cautious not to cross the ‘invisible red line.’”

Zulfiqar’s urges unity within the journalist fraternity for their protection. “Then they shall neither annoy security forces nor separatist elements by reporting anything against them.”

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