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Friday, 11 May 2012

Yet Another Journalist Kidnapped and Killed in Pakistan

IPI Saddened and Appalled at Widespread Violence in the Country 

By: Barbara Trionfi, Press Freedom Adviser for Asia and the Pacific

A journalist reports in front of smoke rising from burning fuel tankers in Quetta on Dec. 9, 2011. Militants fired a rocket-propelled grenade at trucks loaded with fuel and supplies for NATO troops in Afghanistan in the southwestern city of Quetta in Baluchistan province, setting fire to 25 vehicles, police officials said. REUTERS/Naseer Ahmed

VIENNA, May 11, 2012 - The bullet-riddled body of Pakistani journalist Tariq Kamal, a Karachi-based reporter for a local Sindhi newspaper, was found on May 9 in the Pak Colony neighborhood of Karachi. The journalist had been reportedly kidnapped on May 6. The journalist’s body, which showed signs of severe torture, was found together with the body of his friend, Fawad Sheikh, who had accompanied him to the volatile area, according the Pakistani newspaper, The News.

According to The News, Kamal’s brother, Talha, told Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Amir Farooqi that the journalist had left home some five days earlier for Vinder, Balochistan, to work on an exclusive report. Amir Farooqi said that the family talked to Kamal one day after his departure, but did not hear from him after that and filed a missing person report.

In the evening of May 8, “the family got a call from Kamal, who sounded disheartened, and informed them that it was his last call, as his captives were about to kill him in a few moments. He said they were being killed on the orders of a ‘sardar’,” Amir Farooqi said.

According to the Dawn.com newspaper website, Kamal’s and Sheikh’s families were quoted as saying that they had received a call from kidnappers who told them that both the men were police informants and would be killed for that reason.

“I am saddened by the death of Tariq Kamal and his friend and appalled by Pakistani authorities’ failure to address the climate of extreme violence affecting our colleagues in Pakistan,” IPI Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie said. “It is disturbing that, of the over 50 journalists killed since the beginning of the century, only one murder - that of Daniel Pearl - was thoroughly investigated. In all other cases, impunity persists.

“I extend my condolences to the family and colleagues of Tariq Kamal,” Bethel McKenzie added.

At least 54 journalists were killed in Pakistan since the year 200, according to the IPI Death Watch; they were either directly targeted in connection with their coverage of events, or died while covering dangerous assignments.

Daniel Pearl, South Asian bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal, was kidnapped on Jan. 23, 2002 in Karachi and later brutally murdered by his captors. In July 2002, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a British national of Pakistani origin, was sentenced to death by hanging for Pearl’s abduction and murder.