The family, friends, colleagues and well-wishers gather every February 18 to observe death anniversary of Musa Khankhel, reporter of Geo News TV channel, who was mysteriously killed while covering the rally of cleric Maulana Sufi Muhammad on that day in 2009 in Matta tehsil of Swat valley.
It has been five years now since Musa Khankhel was first kidnapped and then killed on 18 February 2009 while on duty.
His killing after brief kidnapping came days after peace deal was reached between the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and banned outfit Tehreek Nifaz-e-Shariah Muhammadi (Movement for Enforcement of Shariah of Prophet Muhammad [PBUH]). He was the first casualty of what was perceived as post-peace period in Swat where the local Taliban militants held significant sway before the military was ordered to restore the state’s writ in May 2009 operation.
“No single attempt to investigate kidnapping-cum-murder of Musa Khankhel has ever been made to find out who kidnapped and killed the journalist,” enraged Essa Khankhel, Mingora-based journalist and younger brother of the deceased journalist, reacted when Freedom Network [FN] inquired about the state of outcome of any investigation.
His anger was understandable. Musa Khankhel was not alone while covering now jailed Maulana Sufi Muhammad’s tour of Matta, regarded as stronghold of Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah who is also known as ‘Mullah Radio’ using the airwaves over Swat to influence local residents, to win locals’ support for the peace deal he reached with liberal Awami National Party and Pakistan People’s Party’s coalition government in Peshawar.
“No police official ever visited or invited me to record my statement or any of my family member,” Essa, who now works for Geo News channel and daily The News, vehemently said. “Ask the police why they made no attempt to carry out the investigation,” he responded when asked did the police make any effort to get to the bottom of journalist’s killing.
Musa Khankhel is not alone whose investigation made no start. Since 2002, no single murder case involving a journalist has ever been investigated except that killers of American journalist Daniel Pearl were brought to justice. But Musa Khankhel’s case is even different from many other targeted Pakistani journalists as he was whisked away from a crowd of people and hours later was found dead.
Impunity of crimes against media and journalists is Pakistan’s bigger problem today with the state’s unwillingness or impotence to prosecute the perpetrators of the crime actually encourages the elements targeting the media and working journalists to continue the target-killing of working journalists and media assistants and media houses.
“I have lost hope for any justice my late brother journalist may get. But one institution still holds a ray of hope and that is the Supreme Court. If it holds the inquiry as it has been doing in many other cases we may find the killers of Musa Khankhel,” the brother passionately appealed to Chief Justice Pakistan Jusice Tassaduq Hussain Jilani.
Every successive government makes lavish promises but delivers little. And it happened with the Khankhel family. The federal government at that day promised the family a residential plot in Islamabad to somehow compensate the loss. However, Essa Khankhel says until today no action was seen to honour the promise.