The Price Of Fighting Impunity In Pakistan

Seven people, including an eyewitness, prosecution lawyer and police officials, were killed in the course of brining perpetrators of murdering young journalist Wali Khan Babar to justice in Pakistan. The price bereaved family is paying – financial losses and mental agonies – are besides.

“You cannot imagine what price you will pay if you pursue the murder case of a journalist in Pakistan. My story tells all this,” Murtaza Khan Babar, elder brother of late Wali Khan Babar, told Freedom Network on the eve of International Day to End Impunity 2015 which falls on November 2.

Pakistan was included in the list five pilot countries to implement the UN Plan of Action on the Journalists’ Safety and the Issue of Impunity after  the country experienced worst safety and security threats leaving over 110 killed and thousand others intimidated, harassed and threatened since January 2000.

“Four years since the murder of my brother I am receiving threats. We moved to another place in Karachi and personal business suffered. I spent more than Rs.4 million on the legal course and still not sure how long still it will take the legal course completes and the convicted killers of Wali Khan Babar get hanged,” the brother who spearheaded the battle to fight the impunity on his own said.

The challenge Murtaza is facing that he is finding it difficult to find a lawyer for the continued legal battle. “No lawyer is willing to fight my case for reason they fear reprisal from the powerful group which is behind the murder of Wali Khan Babar. “No lawyer is ready take the risk by taking up the case of Wali Khan Babar.”

“I was told the lawyers may take up a case against Gen. (Ashfaq Pervez) Kayani (when he was the army chief at that time) but they cannot take up a case directed against the MQM (a Karachi-based political party)

He finds out deficiencies in the police investigation and the government’s prosecution wings. “As long as our investigation and prosecution is not made stronger and state-of-the-art it is difficult to fight impunity. These big mafias and groups targeting journalists have planted own men everywhere – police, judiciary and media.

“The police did not charge the accused under the 7 ATA (Anti-Terrorism Act) and I was to move the high court to get the accused charged directly under the 7 ATA.”

No Longer Community & Organizational Support

The bereaved family received widespread support from the civil society, the journalist community and the Wali Khan Babar’s organization – Geo News channel – when the passionate journalist was shot dead on 13 January 2011 in Karachi. He received five bullets in his face and chest and died instantly.

“There has been widespread support in the beginning. The civil society, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, Geo News, Reporters Without Borders and Committee to Protect Journalists have been supporting us. This support lessened our grief. However, we found soon that support from the PFUJ and the Geo News vanished into thin air.

“I believe the community support is vital to stand up against the difficult moments you have in the beginning. You cannot stand up alone unless you have support from all sides.”

Fight the Impunity

Murtaza has special message for the journalists’ community and other stakeholders. “My brother will not return even if everyone is hanged to death. What I want the Pakistani journalists and all other stakeholders is to fight the impunity by making the journalist safety a big story. Wali Khan Babar’s case is litmus test for all of us. We need to fight this monster – the impunity – before journalism is taken out of Pakistan,” he goes on to add.

Caption: Late Wali Khan Babar

Image Courtesy: Google Images

 

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