Ayub Khattak, a journalist in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s southern Karak district, was shot dead outside his home on Friday (11 October 2013) days after he filed story on sale of drugs and local gang of drug-peddlers, his colleagues told Freedom Network on Saturday (12 October 2013).
He is the seventh journalist to be killed in 2013 and first in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. These journalists have been killed in different circumstances with some in suicide attack and others in what appear to be target-killing and Ayub Khattak has also been “target-killed.”
“The killing of Ayub Khattak is a stark reminder that how dangerous it is to work as journalist in Pakistan,” newly-launched Pakistani press freedom watchdog organization Freedom Network reacted to the seventh journalist’s killing, demanding that Karak district police should use all available resources to track down the killers.
Karak-based journalist Haleem Bukhari believed the journalist’s murder was linked to his professional work. “The deceased has filed a story on sale of drugs and drug-sellers and that what appears to be the reason for target-killing him,” he told Freedom Network by phone from Karak city where local journalist community was holding protest demonstration to condemn their colleague’s killing and demand justice.
Ayub Khattak has had no personal or family feud and his killing was related to his profession, the family members told local journalists. “No, we have no enmity nor did Ayub have any personal feud,” his son Muhammad Waseem told local journalists.
“Given the fact that the journalist has had no family or personal feud his murder appears related to his journalistic work,” Freedom Network said expressing condolence with the bereaved family and solidarity with the Karak journalist community.
Eyewitnesses and police said two motorcyclists were waiting for the journalist outside his residence. “Ayub Khattak was on his way home early evening and the unknown assailants started to fire at him,” Takht-e-Nasrati Police Station officials were quoted as saying.
Journalist Haleem Bukhari said the attackers had first stopped Ayub asking him why he filed his report against them. “Fifteen minutes later, the two attackers stopped him near his residence and sprayed him with Klashnikov bullets. He died while on his way to hospital,” the local journalist gave details.
Writing for Karak Times, Ayub Khattak was doing crime reporting and he was highlighting the increasing sale of drugs in Wrana Mir Hassankhel neighbourhood. “He used to get threats after his reports exposed criminal elements,” Haleem Bukhari said. He was in the profession since 2004.
A protest demonstration was staged in Karak city by local journalists condemning the murder of journalist Ayub Khattak and demanding attackers are brought to justice, Saleem Bukhari said.
His body was shifted to District Headquarters Hospital for autopsy.
The killing of Ayub Khattak comes three days after Pakistan’s Federal Minister For Information Pervaiz Rasheed announced the Pakistan Muslim League (N) government’s support to the United Nations’ Plan of Action to fight impunity of crimes against media in Pakistan.
Nawaz Khattak, editor of Karak-based newspaper Karak Times, told Freedom Network that the son of late Ayub Khattak nominated two brothers – Aminullah and Hasab Niaz – for his father’s killing in the First Information Report (FIR).
The accused killers “believed Ayub Khattak’s reporting made them arrest by the police and that the late journalist’s reports tipped off the police taking action against them,” local journalists argued.
Ayub Khattak leaves a widow, six daughters and four sons to mourn his death.
Top picture caption:
Colleagues offer dua at the graveyard of late journalist Ayub Khattak in his ancestral village in Karak district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on 11 October 2013.