Press Statement

Pakistan: Punjab journalist slain in targeted attack

16 May, 2024

Senior Pakistani journalist Mehar Ashfaq Siyal was fatally shot by unknown assailants while travelling to Muzaffargarh, Punjab. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), strongly condemn the killing of Siyal and urge authorities to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation.

On May 15, Daily Khabrain journalist Mehar Ashfaq Siyal was shot several times while travelling near Muzaffargarh in Punjab’s inner south. According to Siyal’s brother, Muhammad Ishaq, Siyal was attacked while the pair were travelling on separate motorcycles towards Muzaffargarh city. Two armed individuals on a motorcycle approached the journalist, before stopping his motorcycle and firing into his stomach. Ishaq claims that the assailants discharged additional shots into the air, before fleeing the scene.

Ishaq reports that he transported his brother to the DHQ Hospital in the city’s south with the assistance of a passing vehicle. In a video posted to social media, a visibly unwell and unresponsive Siyal can be seen with wounds to his stomach at the hospital, shortly before he dies.

City police have registered a First Information Report under murder and group criminal conduct charges, on the instruction of Ishaq. They claimed to have commenced an investigation into the incident and to be actively searching for those responsible. Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz Sharif has issued orders for a comprehensive report from the Inspector General of Police Punjab regarding the incident, while Khabrain and the Muzaffargarh media community have condemned the killing The motive behind the attack is unclear.

Siyal is the second Pakistani journalist killed in May, and the fourth killed in 2024. Muhammad Siddique Mengal was killed on May 3 after an unidentified individual placed and detonated an explosive device in his vehicle. Journalist Sagheer Ahmed Laar was killed on March 14 in Punjab after unidentified men shot into a pharmacy, while the body of Pakpattan journalist Tahira Nosheen Rana was discovered in the province’s north on March 11.

PFUJ President GM Jamali and Secretary General Rana Muhammad Azeem said: The Provincial Government of Punjab and the Inspector General of Police Punjab should immediately arrest the killers and give compensation to the family of the killed journalist.”

IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “Journalists and media workers in Pakistan are under constant threat, and the tragic killing of Mehar Ashfaq Siyal must be subject to a thorough and transparent investigation. The Pakistani government must fulfil its duty in safeguarding journalists, honour its constitutional and international commitments to press freedom, and ensure that those responsible do not escape with impunity.”

Written By

IFJ Asia-Pacific IFJ Asia-Pacific

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