Murder attempt on journalist over TV report condemned
Dunya TV reporter Hafiz Muhammad Imran Shehzad became the target of an apparent murder attempt in Sialkot because of his coverage of the lynching of two brothers in the presence of police officers in the northwest of Punjab which shocked the entire world.
Aged 27, Imran has been hospitalised with injuries he sustained when he was attacked and badly beaten outside his house in Sialkot on August 29 by two men who arrived on a motorcycle.
"I did an exclusive report showing the brutality reigning in Sialkot but now I am under threat from those who have been implicated in this case," he told Reporters Without Borders. "My attackers have just done what they had been threatening to do for days. I call on all organisations that fight for press freedom to protect me against the people who want to kill me because of my report."
Reporters Without Borders urges the Pakistani government, especially Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik, to react quickly and give Imran the necessary protection. The organisation also calls on Pakistani TV station executives to discuss how they could protect their reporters, who are increasingly the target of violence.
Imran's report on the lynching of two teenagers by a mob in Sialkot on August 15 included exclusive footage of the incident. The youths were accused of a theft, but Imran showed that the lynching was the result of dispute over a cricket match. The report of the incident, and especially the fact that the police looked on without taking any action, had such an impact that the Supreme Court has been forced to intervene. Seventeen people, including police officers, have been arrested on murder charges.
Speaking on telephone, Imran told Reporters Without Borders he suspected that local police officers were involved in the beating he received, which happened shortly after his report was shown at a Supreme Court hearing. Imran was also threatened by a man who had just alighted from a police car. Imran had managed to film him giving money to police officers in an attempt to influence their investigation.
Most cases of violence against journalists in recent months have involved the employees of privately-owned TV stations, whose influence is growing steadily. Imran Khan of Din News TV, Anwar Kamal of Geo News, Zafarullah Banori of ARY One, Ejazul Haq of City-42 TV, Azmat Ali Bangash of Samaa TV, Malik Arif of Samaa TV and Ashiq Ali Mangi of Mehran TV have all been the targets of violence.