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Pakistani forces under fire for shooting down journalist in restive Sway Valley region

Pakistani forces under fire for shooting down journalist in restive Sway Valley region
Restive region: Security officials walk at the site of a suicide blast at a police station in Mingora, on the outskirts of the troubled Swat region, October 16, 2008. Swat valley, in North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), about 150 kilometres north-east of Peshawar, has been the focus of a Pakistan army offensive against insurgents since August. Qari Mohammad Shoaib is the third journalist to be killed in Swat this year.Photo: Reuters / Abdul Rehman

The shooting down of a Pakistani journalist by security forces in a case of mistake identity in the country's Swat Valley region has come in for widespread comdemnation.

Pakistani security forces shot Qari Muhammad Shoib, a Mingora-based print journalist on Saturday night when e failed to stop his car for a military convoy enforcing a curfew at Nishat Chowk of Mingora city in the restive Swat Valley of Northwest Pakistan. Qari Shoib, 32, was a dynamic journalist who regularly reported on the conflict between Taliban militants and Pakistan security forces for daily Azadi and PPA news Agency.

Shoaib is the third journalist to be killed in Swat this year, said the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), an affiliate of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). Security forces admitted that Shoaib was killed “by mistake", according to PFUJ. His vehicle displayed a press sticker and he was carrying a press card. “There was no justification for direct firing on the car," said Mazhar Abbas, PFUJ General Secretary.

IFJ joined PFUJ and local unions in demanding that provincial and federal authorities conduct an immediate independent inquiry into the killing of Shoaib and arrest those responsible.

Journalists in Mingora told Paris-based Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) that the shots had been fired deliberately and were aimed at the journalist. “If they had wanted to stop the vehicle they could have shot out the tyres”, one of them said. "We express our deepest sympathy to the family and colleagues of Mohammed Shoaib for his unfortunate death," said Bob Dietz, Asia Programme Coordinator of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

“Journalists in Pakistan’s conflict zones are working under extreme pressures as they seek to report in the public interest from the country’s zones of intensifying conflict, including Swat Valley,” IFJ-Asia Pacific said. “The killing of Qari Mohammad Shoaib yet again highlights the dangers for media personnel in Pakistan. Pakistan’s security forces must be held accountable for Shoaib’s death and be compelled to institute appropriate procedures to ensure such a tragedy does not occur again.”

Journalists around the country will rally on November 12 to demand greater security for media personnel in Pakistan’s conflict zones. Meanwhile, members of local press clubs and unions in Swat staged a protest rally on November 9 to condemn the killing, and announced three days of mourning for Shoaib. The Khyber Union of Journalists, an affiliate of PFUJ, held a protest demonstration in Peshawar on Monday.

Date posted: November 11, 2008 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 321