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"Guardian" journalist goes missing following raid on home in Islamabad, later released

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following are 8 and 9 July 2008 IFJ media releases:

8 July 2008

IFJ Concerned Over Reported Disappearance of Journalist in Pakistan

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is concerned over the reported disappearance of Wiqar Kiyani, a journalist working for the Guardian newspaper of the United Kingdom, shortly after he returned to Islamabad from a reporting assignment in Karachi.

According to reports received from the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), an IFJ affiliate, Kiyani's home was raided in his absence by unidentified persons. Soon after he returned home, his newspaper informed the PFUJ that he was not responding to telephone calls.

The IFJ learns that the PFUJ has been in contact with Pakistan's Federal Information Minister, Sherry Rahman, who has assured them of assistance in tracing the missing journalist.

"We are deeply distressed at this incident, which has occurred literally within hours of the release of the journalists Pir Zubair Shah and Akhtar Soomoro, after their abduction in the Mohmand agency area of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan", said the IFJ Asia-Pacific.

The IFJ urges the state agencies and insurgent groups to respond positively to the appeals made by the PFUJ and other professional organisations, and to honour the valuable precedent established by the release of the journalists in the FATA.

"We urge that the principle of journalists as non-combatants be respected by all sides in the conflict zones of Pakistan", said the IFJ Asia Pacific.

"At the same time, the safety situation for journalists in the FATA and the frontier provinces of Pakistan remains tenuous and we urge media owners and editors to be mindful of the special needs of journalists assigned in these areas".

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 122 countries.

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9 July 2008

IFJ Calls for Vigilance to Protect Journalists' Safety in Pakistan

The International Federation of Journalists has called for vigilance to protect journalists' safety in Pakistan after the latest alarming spike in abductions of journalists which has ended with the release of Wiqar Kiyani, a journalist working for the Guardian newspaper of the United Kingdom, after his mysterious disappearance on July 6 from his home in Islamabad.

Kiyani's case represents the third in a sequence, which also involved the abduction of the journalists Pir Zubair Shah and Akhtar Soomoro, in the Mohmand agency area of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan.

The IFJ urges the state agencies and insurgent groups to respond positively to the appeals made by the PFUJ and other professional organisations, and to honour the valuable precedent established in these cases, that journalists are non-combatants entitled to equal protection from all sides in a conflict.

"We are worried though, that the culture of hostility and physical violence against media workers is an entrenched fact in Pakistan's more troubled areas", said the IFJ Asia Pacific.

"We call upon the federal and provincial governments in Pakistan to heed the call made by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) that immediate safety measures be instituted for journalists, especially those working in the tribal areas, allowing them to work without fear or intimidation from state agents or non-state actors."

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 122 countries.

For further information on the Shah and Soomoro case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/95243

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