Press Statement

Pakistan: Body of female journalist identified in Punjab

22 Apr, 2024

Police in Punjab have reported that a previously unidentified body discovered on March 11 near the Lehri National Park has been confirmed to be Pakpattan print journalist Tahira Nosheen Rana. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), strongly condemn the journalist’s killing and urge authorities to conduct an immediate and comprehensive investigation into her murder.

The journalist’s body was discovered on March 11 near the Lehri National Park within the Sohawa district of Jhelum in Punjab’s north, approximately four hundred kilometres from Rana’s home in Pakpattan. Local police formally initiated an investigation into the incident in a First Information Report filed on March 11, 2024, at the Sohawa Police Station in District Jhelum. The case has been registered under sections relating to murder under Pakistan’s penal code.

Despite the initial challenges in identifying the deceased, subsequent forensic analysis, including fingerprint verification, confirmed that the body was Rana’s. She was stabbed multiple times in her face and stomach, and her face had been burned with acid. The journalist was buried by police in a Sohawa graveyard before her identification. Investigations are ongoing.

The reasons behind the killing are unclear. The IFJ has reviewed a video interview recorded on November 24, 2024, wherein Rana alleged her husband had previously assaulted, blackmailed, and abducted her after she initiated traditional divorce proceedings, also known as Khul. The journalist alleges her husband confined her to his residence in Lahore for four months, forcing her to consume intoxicating substances. She was eventually able to escape during a period of his absence and was since working in Islamabad. She further stated that there had been multiple attempts on her life by her ex-husband, motivated by his desire to acquire her property.

Rana started her career in journalism in 2018, working for a local Urdu-language print publication. Here, she met a reported digital journalist ‘Wasiq’, with whom she married and eventually divorced on June 16, 2023. Speaking with Dawn, Sohawa Police Station House Officer (SHO) Ahsan Butt confirmed that Rana was the subject of three criminal cases, and was a witness in several others.

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) said, “Authorities should carry out a thorough investigation of the female journalist’s murder and the culprits should be arrested immediately.”

IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “Tahira Nosheen Rana’s killing is deplorable and must be met with an immediate, thorough, and transparent investigation. While investigations are ongoing, Pakistani authorities must challenge a pervasive culture of impunity for crimes against journalists and ensure that those close to journalist Rana can find justice through these tragic circumstances.”

Written By

IFJ Asia-Pacific IFJ Asia-Pacific

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