Wednesday, June 15, 2011

International Federation of Journalists Backs Pakistani Journalists



The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) supports the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) in rejecting of the Pakistan Government’s terms for appointing a judicial commission to investigate the abduction and murder in late May of journalist Saleem Shahzad.

 The Government announced on June 14 that it would appoint the Chief Justice of the Federal Sharia Court, Agha Mohammad Rafique, to head the commission.

However, the PFUJ insisted the inquiry must be led by a fully independent Supreme Court justice. 


Appointments to the Supreme Court are made by the President on the recommendation of the court’s Chief Justice, and are permanent appointments. Justices of the Federal Sharia Court are directly appointed by the Government on an ad hoc basis for a limited tenure of three years.

The PFUJ had demanded the Government set up a commission headed by a Supreme Court judge by June 10. The demand was supported by the IFJ and other organisations around the world.

“The inquiry into Shahzad’s murder must be as independent and transparent as possible, and recognised as such by the wider population. It is therefore necessary that the inquiry be headed by a Supreme Court justice,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

The PFUJ, an IFJ affiliate, said journalists would proceed with a 24-hour sit-in outside the Federal Parliament from 3pm on June 15, and would boycott national and provincial assemblies for two days. Similar protests will be held at provincial assemblies in Quetta, Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi.

PFUJ president Pervaiz Shaukat told a press conference on June 14 that the Government was not paying heed to the demands of journalists for full investigations to bring killers of journalists to justice and to end the culture of impunity for the murders of media personnel across all provinces of Pakistan. 



PFUJ secretary-general Amin Yousuf said journalists would only accept a judicial commission headed by a Supreme Court judge.

Journalists in Pakistan have voiced outrage since the body of Shahzad was found about 150km southeast of Islamabad on May 31. Shahzad disappeared in Islamabad on May 29, two days after he published on Asia Times Online an investigative report into alleged links between Al-Qaeda and Pakistani naval officials.

At least four more Pakistani journalists have been reported killed in connection to their work during 2011.

-     Asfandyar Khan, of the daily Akhbar-i-Khyber, died in a bomb blast, Peshawar, June 11.

-     NasrullahAfridi, of Pakistan Television (PTV) and the Urdu daily Mashriq, murdered in targeted car-bomb blast, Peshawar, May 10.

-     WaliKhan Babar, of GEO TV, murdered by unknown gunmen, Karachi, January 13.

-     IlyasNazar, of the Baloch-language Darwanth, found dead in Pidarak, Balochistan, January 5, after abduction on December 28.

Following the June 11 twin-blast in Peshawar, trainee reporter Shafiullah Khan, of TheNews, is reported to be in a critical condition in hospital, suffering burns to 70 per cent of his body.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

Find the IFJ on Facebook here



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