Senior tribal journalist and ‘monitor’ for Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) for militancy-infested South Waziristan Muhammad Zaman Mehsud succumbed to his wounds hours after gunmen riding motorcycle shot and wounded him in Tank district near South Waziristan tribal region on 3 November 2015.
The journalist was taken to a hospital in neighbouring Dera Ismail Khan district for treatment in critical condition where he was pronounced dead.
Freedom Network [FN] offers condolences with the bereaved family and seeks report from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government as to who and why the journalist was murdered.
“This killing comes a day after the International Day To End Impunity was observed around the globe, including Pakistan, and it speaks of persistent danger journalists face in almost everywhere now and no signs are in sight to believe this environment of being killed, kidnapped, threatened and harassed will go away in the near future,” FN, Pakistan’s first media watchdog organization said in a press freedom alert on November 04, 2015.
It said the obvious reason for Zaman, 34, appears his profession and investigation to track down human rights violations in South Waziristan where the government forces are fighting hardcore militants of Taliban.
“But the root-cause of the now deep-rooted impunity of crimes against journalists and media relates to the state of Pakistan unwillingness to bring perpetrators of these crimes to justice. It is very clear as long as the state of Pakistan does not move against predators of press freedom in this country these attacks are hard to stop,” FN said.
Police told local Police that Zaman was travelling from Gomal Bazar to Tank by motorcycle when he came under attack. “Two motorcycle-riding armed men opened fire on his car and left him seriously injured,” the police was quoted as saying.
Zaman Mehsud was a senior journalist who also served as the president and secretary general of the Tribal Union of Journalists’ South Waziristan chapter.
The journalist was shot four times, according to a tribal journalist who did not wish to be named. No group has claimed so far responsibility for the attack on the senior journalist.
Zaman, 34, was working for Nai Baat newspaper as local correspondent, his colleagues said.
The HRCP was in a shock over the loss of Zaman Mehsud. “We announce with great sorrow and grief, the passing of Zaman Mehsud, a dedicated member of the HRCP family and our monitor from South Waziristan. He was attacked in Tank this morning by as yet unidentified assailants and received multiple bullet injuries. The local hospital did not have adequate facilities to treat him and he was moved to a hospital in Dera Ismail Khan, where he expired on the operating table,” the HRCP said in a press statement.
“We call upon all authorities that have any say in this area to make every effort to catch the culprits and bring them to justice. However, we say this today out of respect for form only, because in none of the five previous fatal casualties that HRCP has suffered over the last few years have the authorities succeeded in catching the killers.
“HRCP would also like to invite the attention of civil society and the government to the possibility that Zaman Mehsud and other activists might have been rendered more vulnerable by the environment of suspicion that the state agencies have been creating with respect to civil society organizations and by attributing to them various anti-state activities.
“We urge the civil society organizations to take a serious view of the hazards to which they are exposed on account of their demonization through the government’s venomous attacks on their activities. In these difficult times, the civil society has to find ways to offer a united response and strategy for mutual survival as they strive to pursue the worthy but increasingly difficult cause of human rights in Pakistan.”
The journalist was former president of South Waziristan chapter of Tribal Union of Journalists, the colleagues went on to share more details about the deceased journalist.
“We have not been told of any threat he may have been facing. However, he was human rights activist and active journalist and always highlighted human rights violations in South Waziristan,” a senior tribal journalist spoke to RSF requesting anonymity.
The body of the journalist was taken to his home in Gomal area where he would be buried on Wednesday (November 4, 2015).
He leaves five kids and a widow to mourn his death.