Senior journalist and president of the Shorkot Press Club, Muhammad Younis, was killed by two gunmen in the Punjab province on August 27. The same day, Punjab police initiated an investigation into Geo News journalist Waqar Satti for alleged blasphemy and defamation. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the heinous assassination of Muhammad Younis and calls for stronger measures to protect journalists.
According to reports, Younis, a journalist with Urdu newspaper Express, was assassinated en route to his farm at Mouza Manganwala in Jhang district. The two assailants had been hiding in a nearby field when they opened fire on Younis and subsequently fled the scene.Jhang District Police ordered an immediate investigation into the incident and are still looking for the attackers.
In a separate incident, Rawalpindi police registered a case against journalist Waqar Satti for falsely attributing “disrespectful” quotes about Islam to former Prime Minister Imran Khan in a Twitter post on August 24.The case was registered after a complaint by Chaudhry Nasir Qayyum, a cable operator, who alleged the journalist’s online comments would incite religious hatred. Police are investigating whether the comments made by Satti and if they violate Pakistan’s Penal Code.
According to the IFJ’s South Asia Press Freedom Report 2021-2022, journalists and media workers in Pakistan have faced numerous threats to their safety and security, including physical attacks, arrests, abductions and several instances of coordinated or violent online harassment and intimidation.
In recent weeks, a spate of media rights violations has swept Pakistan, with the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) banning live speeches from former Prime Minister Imran Khan on August 21, and blocking the transmission of pro-Khan news organisations including ARY News and BOL News. Pakistani state authorities also detained journalists Ilyas Samoo and Jameel Farooqui, who were allegedly targeted for critical reportage of the ruling government.
IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “The IFJ strongly condemns the killing of Muhammad Younis and calls on the Pakistani authorities to take all necessary steps to bring the perpetrators to justice. The IFJ also remains concerned about the influx of allegations being leveled at reporters for simply doing their jobs. Journalism is not a crime.”