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IFJ condemns killing of journalist in Balochistan

(IFJ/IFEX) - August 15, 2011 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is alarmed to learn of the killing of another journalist in Pakistan's Balochistan province on August 14.

According to the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Muneer Shakir was attacked by unknown persons who opened fire on him at 12.20pm as he headed home from the press club in Khuzdar, in central Balochistan. Shakir died at District Headquarters Hospital in Khuzdar.

Shakir, who was in his early 30s, worked for Online News Network and was a correspondent with the Balochi television station Sabzbaat.

Members of the Balochistan Union of Journalists (BUJ) reported that Shakir was not known to have received any threats.

The PFUJ, an affiliate of the IFJ, said in a statement that the murder of Shakir - the sixth journalist killed in Pakistan in 2011 and the seventh media worker killed in Balochistan since early 2010 - exposed the failure of the Government to protect media personnel.

The BUJ said the provincial government had been informed repeatedly about threats against journalists, many of whom were reporting without assurance of salaries, but had taken no preventive action. The insecure situation in Balochistan was compelling many journalists to leave the profession, the BUJ said.

Elsewhere in Pakistan, grave concerns are held for the welfare of tribal journalist Rehmatullah Dawar, who was abducted in North Waziristan, in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), on August 11.

Dawar, of AAJ TV and the Urdu daily Ausaf, was snatched at a bazaar in Miranshah by unidentified men. No one has claimed responsibility and the motive remains unclear. However, the local Taliban has offered to assist to locate Dawar.

"It is well beyond time for media houses in Pakistan to take responsibility to protect their workers amid increasing risks," IFJ Asia-Pacific said. "And power-holders and government authorities at all levels must take concerted action to end impunity by bringing perpetrators to justice."

In just one example, Awaz TV cameraman Abdul Salam Soomro has received serious threats after he filmed a paramilitary ranger killing unarmed teenager Sarfraz Shah in Karachi in June.

On August 12, after the ranger accused of the killing was sentenced to death, PFUJ Secretary General Amin Yousuf demanded media organisations implement measures, including through the provision of insurance, to protect media workers who serve the public interest.
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