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Families of Killed Pakistani Journalists Still Await Justice

Wali Khan Babar, a promising reporter with Geo TV was gunned down in January 2011, as he was returning from his home after work. He was covering operation against drug traffickers in Karachi’s Pehlwan Goth area.

Wali’s brother Murtaza Khan said that he was watching television when suddenly a news alert announced murder of a journalist, which was his own brother. “Wali was a promising reporter. He was always curious about people — especially the downtrodden. He wanted to help get their story out,” Murtaza told Dawn.

Murtaza said that Wali was not interested in engineering or medicine and wanted to choose his own path. Wali had told the family that he had plans and they should not worry about him.

“He told me to not worry about him and that he had a plan. He was interested in the media and eventually landed a job with Geo,” Murtaza said, adding that Wali was extremely excited when his story first appeared on the channel.

While those involved in Wali’s murder were sentenced, there are several others who are yet to receive justice.

Since 2002, 72 journalists have been killed, 48 of them who were deliberately targeted or murdered. Among them were Daily Ausaf’s Hayatullah Khan, Irshad Mastoi of the ARY group, Daily Tawar’s Javed Naseer Rind. Most of these murders remain unsolved and their perpetrators unpunished, according to ‘State of Pakistani Media in 2018’.

The report focuses on instances of crimes against the media — where journalists were killed, murdered, abducted, assaulted, detained; and threatened by law enforcement agencies, militants, feudal lords, and tribal leaders.

2018 was a tough year for journalists in Pakistan. Many lost their jobs and were forced out due to a ‘financial crunch’. Others faced censorship from several quarters. According to Reporters Sans Frontiers, Pakistan ranks 139th in the Press Freedom Index.

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