|Slain Pak TV reporter had 32 bullet wounds
| Thursday, 19 February , 2009, 12:19
Islamabad: Thirty two bullets were pumped into TV reporter Musa Khan Khel in Pakistan’s Swat Valley two days after Islamabad allowed the Taliban to impose Shariat (Islamic law) in the area, said Geo News executive editor Hamid Mir, adding a lot of radicals were unhappy with his coverage but “truth has to be reported”.
Mir told a meeting of journalists: “They (the assailants) are mistaken, they cannot escape.” He said that Musa Khan Khel’s statements were recorded “2-3 times before his death. Truth has to be reported,” he said.
Mir went on to say that several journalists had earlier been killed in the valley while performing their duty. Another journalist demanded that the government make arrangements for the protection of journalists in Swat and the killing was an assault on all journalists. He said that “there is no rule of law” in Swat.
Geo TVsaid unidentified gunmen shot dead Musa Khan Khel in Matta area of Swat Valley in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). Khan Khel, who also worked for the English newspaper The News, was in the area to cover the talks between the local Taliban leader and a cleric, the News Network International (NNI) news agency reported.
No group claimed responsibility for the killing. Khan Khel is the second journalist to be shot dead in Swat valley in three months. Information Minister Sherry Rehman condemned Khan Khel’s murder and vowed to bring the murderers to justice.
Who killed Musa Khan? The dangerous culture of “Breaking News” in Pakistani journalism. Will the owners of The Jang Group/Geo TV and other media tycoons accepts their responsibility?
Analysis by Abdul Haye Kakar at BBC Urdu dot com:
Musa Khankhel — murder of a brave journalist
Thursday, February 19, 2009
By Rahimullah Yusufzai
PESHAWAR: Musa Khankhel used to tell his colleagues at The News International that he will be killed for his work as a journalist in Swat.
He was right.
On Wednesday, he was brutally murdered by unknown people while covering the vehicular procession of Maulana Sufi Mohammad, who is on a peace mission in Swat, from Mingora to Matta. The killers executed him after kidnapping him from Matta.
Musa Khankhel died with his boots on. He lost his life in the line of duty. He was the fourth journalist to be martyred in Swat since 2007 when violence first erupted in Pakistan’s most beautiful and peaceful valley. Sirajuddin, Aziz Khan and Qari Shoaib had been martyred earlier. However, Musa Khankhel’s murder was the first target killing of a Swati journalist.
His younger brother Isa Khankhel, who is also a journalist, was crying when he phoned this scribe to break the news of Musa Khankhel’s murder. He had lost not only a dear brother but also a professional colleague. They used to work together, helping each other at every step. Being older, Musa had taken Isa under his wings. Now Isa would have to cope for himself.
Friends and acquaintances used to joke with the two brothers while mentioning their names. Both had been named after prophets. Their names had a certain rhythm. One had to mention Musa and the name of Isa would come to mind. Like their names, Musa and Isa stuck together.
Musa Khankhel phoned this scribe on Wednesday morning to complain that the officials manning the military-run Swat Media Centre in Saidu Sharif had denied him permission to cover the press conference that senior provincial minister and ANP leader Bashir Bilour and other ministers were addressing. Isa too was denied the permission and he too called this writer with a request to take up the matter with the higher authorities. No reason was given for keeping the two brothers out of an event, which the government was keen to publicise. The ministers had ventured to travel to Swat after a while in a bid to show that the valley was returning to normalcy after the announcement of Nizam-e-Adl Regulation.
It wasn’t the first time that Musa Khankhel had encountered problems in his dealings with the security forces and other stakeholders in Swat. Last year, he was manhandled by the men in uniform at the Circuit House in Saidu Sharif. Obviously, they weren’t happy with the reporting of the happenings in Swat by the headstrong Musa Khankhel.
He was a fearless man. All advice to him to take care of his security fell on deaf ears. Journalism for him was an addiction. He was so much committed to the profession that he used to live in his office and stay awake at night to transmit news of the latest happenings to his media organisation.
Musa Khankhel made many enemies during the course of his journalistic career. Anyone among them could have got him eliminated. The violence that affected every section of the population in Swat also took its toll on journalists. His family hasn’t blamed anyone for Musa Khankhel’s murder and, therefore, it would be unfair to name suspects or speculate about the killers. Though fair and proper investigations into his murder aren’t possible in Swat nowadays, one would expect the government to do its bit to expose and punish the murderers.
Just when everyone thought peace was finally returning to Swat, the first murder after the enforcement of the ceasefire was that of a journalist. And it happened to be Musa Khankhel, who undoubtedly was one of the most courageous reporters in Swat. (The News)
The curse of the breaking news culture and the never-ending greed of our media tycoons may also be taken into account in this and other sad incidents. I was reading this news item today, in which a journalist rep (Raiz Khan):
“…. criticised the owners of media organisations, saying that the organisations did not arrange any training for journalists working in the conflict zone. Let alone their training, even appointment letters are not provided to the media men, he lamented. He said the organisations should immediately issue appointment letters to all the journalists working in the conflict zones, provide them proper salaries, give them life jackets, arrange life insurance for them and above all ensure a proper training for them.”