Thursday, 27 August 2009

Afghan journalist murdered en route to Peshawar

Very sad to hear about the murder of journalist Janullah Hashimzada, 37, shot dead by four masked gunmen on 24 August in a targetted assassination in the Soor Kamar area of Jamrud sub-district on the road between the border town of Torkham and Peshawar in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province.
Although no one has so far claimed responsibility for the murder, Janullah’s friend Aimal Khattak claimed unknown men had threatened the journalist with death some three weeks ago.
Januallah was the Peshawar correspondent for Afghanistan Pahjwok News Agency, and was also bureau chief in Peshawar for the Pashto TV channel Shamshad. He also filed reports for AP, al-Arabiya TV channel and other outlets.
At a condolence meeting and fateha khwani held at the Peshawar Press Club on Tuesday, the club's President, Shamim Shahid said Janullah's death was "a great loss to the journalists' community and to freedom of the press." He added that Janullah was "very cooperative while sharing information on Afghan affairs" and that he was "a sincere friend and a humble human being."
Danish Karokhel, head of Pajhwok news service in Kabul, said Janullah was a professional journalist who covered major stories in Pakistan for Pajhwok and other media organizations. Mohammad Israr Atal, a staffer of Shamshad TV's Peshawar Bureau, recalled the precious moments he had spent with Janullah. "I never felt professional jealousy or distrust while working with Janullah in our office," he said. "We have been deprived of a good friend and a caring boss", he added.
He left three daughters and a widow to mourn his death. Daud Khattak, another friend of Janullah, said he was a brave journalist who visited and interviewed the Mujahideen and Taliban leaders both in tribal areas of Pakistan and troubled parts of Afghanistan.
The International Federation of Journalists has demanded a full inquiry into Janullah's death, with IFJ General Secretary Aidan White noting that "Pakistan’s highest authorities must take quick action to overcome the failings of local authorities to properly investigate previous murders of journalists in Pakistan.”
The IFJ statement pointed out that Janullah was working with the Afghan Independent Journalists’ Association (AIJA), an IFJ affiliate, to set up an AIJA regional office in Peshawar, in order to assist Afghan journalists and media professionals working in Pakistan, as well as Pakistani journalists.
AIJA President Rahimullah Samander said the death of Hashimzada was an enormous loss for the Afghan journalists’ community, and the association’s offices in Afghanistan’s eastern four provinces were investigating the murder. The AIJA has called on Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to intervene with counterparts in Pakistan and request assurance of a full and immediate investigation.

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