A local journalist, who had been missing from Vehari since September 7, was found dead four days later on Sept 11 in Punjab, the International Federation of Journalists said in a statement condemning the killing on Monday.
The journalist, who has been identified as Zafar Abbas, used to work as a correspondent for English daily Dawn. He was, according to the statement, returning home late from work when he was kidnapped. IFJ and its affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, have alleged that police had not investigated the matter in spite of a kidnapping complaint having been filed in the matter.
Abbas’s body was found in a dry well.
Several journalists’ bodies reportedly protested against what they said was police apathy towards beginning an investigation in this regard. Eventually, Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar ordered an investigation, under which seven suspects have been identified, said the statement.
“The PFUJ president GM Jamali and secretary general Rana M Azeem demand the chief minister of Punjab ensure the authorities investigate Abbas’ murder, prosecute the killers and provide financial compensation to Abbas’ family,” said the journalists’ body.
According to the IFJ, Abbas is the third journalist to be killed in Pakistan this year and the second journalist to be killed in the Punjab province. On August 30, Mirza Waseem Baig was shot six times outside his house in Punjab. Another journalist was killed on April 30 in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, noted the statement.
On June 16, 22-year-old journalist Muhammad Bilal Khan, who ran a YouTube channel on politics, was stabbed to death in Islamabad. Then as well, journalists’ bodies had noted the delay in investigating the killing.
In July, Al Jazeera reported that news television channels Channel 24, Abbtak News, and Capital TV were taken off air after they aired a live press conference by opposition leader Maryam Nawaz.
Pakistan ranks 142 in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index. It’s ranking fell three notches from 139 in 2018. Reporters Sans Frontières has held that the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority created by the Imran Khan government has been understood to have de facto replaced “regulation” with “censorship.”