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Pakistan January 20, 2012
A reply to this letter from the Embassy of the United State of America, Islamabad, Pakistan is attached at the bottom of this page.
H.E. Asif Al Zadari
Office of the President
Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Fax: (011.92.51.2) 920.3938
We are not so much dismayed as utterly discouraged by this week’s murder of our colleague, Mukarram Khan Aatif, while he prayed in a mosque north of Peshawar today. His death is a special kind of blasphemy, an offense to his faith and an offense to the hope of functioning democracy in Pakistan.
Aatif, as you must know, was a correspondent for the private TV station, Dunya News. He also worked for Deewa Radio, a Pashto-language channel of the U.S. government-funded broadcaster, Voice of America. News reports are that he was praying in a mosque near his home that evening when two gunmen entered, shot him several times and fled on motorcycles.
Ihsanullah Ihsan, who calls himself a Taliban spokesman, told the Associated Press that Aatif was murdered for ignoring the group’s warning request to stop his reporting on the Taliban. According to colleagues in Pakistan, Aatif only recently moved his family to Peshawar area from the Mohmand tribal region after receiving threats from militants.
We expect little from anyone claiming association with the Taliban. But we are discouraged by the continuing — indeed, escalating — threat to Pakistani journalists in recent years. According to the most recent data from the Committee to Protect Journalists, since 2010, Pakistan has been the deadliest country in the world to be a working journalist. In 2011, at least seven reporters were killed in direct relation to their work. Five of them were in targeted killings, like that of Aatif.
We would urge officials in Pakistan to take vigorous action to find and prosecute our colleague’s murders, but we are too freshly aware that only last week, an official commission set up to investigate the murder of Saleem Shahzad last May, announced that it had no clue who might have been behind his assassination — despite worldwide awareness that Shahzad was killed in retaliation for his reporting on the infiltration of Pakistan’s military by Islamic extremists.
Considering the background of recent history, Your Excellency, we grieve not only for our colleague, Mukarram Khan Aatif, but for the prospect of free expression — indeed, of genuine democracy — in Pakistan.
Freedom of the Press Committee
H E. Hussain Haqqani
Ambassador of Pakistan to the U.S.A.
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
3517 International Court, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon
Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to the United Nations
8 East 65th Street
New York, NY 10021
Fax: (212) 744.7348
H.E. Cameron Munter
U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan
Embassy of the United States of America
Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5
Fax: (011.92.51) 227.6427
30, Tejgaon Industrial Area
Fax: (011.880.2) 811.2247
Mr. Abbas Nasir
Haroon House, Dr. Ziauddin Ahmed Road
Fax: (011.92.21) 569.3995
Islamabad Resident Editor
Aquhbar Market, Moti Plaza
531 Business Recorder Road
Pakistan Press Foundation
Under Secretary of State for Democracy
and Global Affairs
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20520
The London Post