Investigate journalist Musa Khankhel’s killing: Geo TV (Second Lead)

February 19th, 2009 - 6:34 pm ICT by IANS  

TalibanIslamabad, Feb 19 (IANS) Thirty-two bullets were pumped into TV reporter Musa Khankhel in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, two days after Islamabad allowed the Taliban to impose Shariat in the area, Geo News executive editor Hamid Mir said Thursday while demanding an investigation into the killing.
Mir told a meeting of journalists: “They (the assailants) are mistaken, they cannot escape.”

He said Khankhel’s statements were recorded in his own voice “two-three times before his death”.

“Truth has to be reported…We will continue to expose them. Woh (Khankhel) Aman Ka Shahid Hai (He is a martyr to peace),” he said.

“We will continue with this profession. I will go back to Swat. If they want to kill me, they can. I will carry only a pen,” he thundered. “We have hundreds of Musa Khans ready to sacrifice their lives. If one Musa Khan is killed, hundreds will be born.”

Mir went on to say that some journalists, including Abdul Aziz, Sirajuddin and Shoaib, had earlier been killed in the valley while performing their duty. He said Shoaib was shot 23 times in his car while taking his daughter to hospital.

“We don’t want to hamper Swat peace process,” he said and added that the assailants did not want Swat’s condition to be highlighted by the media.

Another journalist demanded that the government make arrangements for the protection of journalists in Swat and the killing was an assault on all journalists.

He said that “there is no rule of law” in Swat.

Geo TV said unidentified gunmen Wednesday shot dead Khankhel in Matta area of Swat Valley in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

The slain journalist was in Swat to report on the peace talks between cleric Sufi Mohammad of the Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) and his son-in-law Maulana Fazlullah, who heads the local Taliban in the area

On Monday, the TNSM reached an agreement with the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) government to impose Shariat, or Islamic law, in the province’s Malakand division, which includes the Swat Valley.

No group has claimed responsibility for the killing.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Information Minister Sherry Rehman have condemned Khankhel’s murder.

Condemnation came in from other places too.

Shaheen Sehbai, group editor of The News, which is published by the same group that owns Geo TV, said in a statement Thursday: “The entire staff and colleagues of Musa Khankhel in The News are deeply grieved at his untimely and traumatic murder in Swat while performing his duties. It is all the more painful as Musa Khan was performing a yeoman’s job in a violent and turbulent period, in a hostile terrain.

“We have lost a dedicated and committed colleague. As Group Editor of The News, while expressing deep sorrow and sympathies with his family, I assure them that The News will duly compensate his loss and do everything to bring his killers to justice.

“I urge the governments in Islamabad, Peshawar and the officials responsible for security in the area to ensure the safety of journalists and stop the terrorists from targeting professionals, who are only performing their national duty in very demanding and troubling conditions.”

Khankhel was a fearless man who ignored advice to take care of himself, another senior Pakistani journalist wrote Thursday.

“He was a fearless man. All advice to him to take care of his security fell on deaf ears. Journalism for him was an addiction,” Rahimullah Yusufzai wrote in The News.

“He was so much committed to the profession that he used to live in his office and stay awake at night to transmit news of the latest happenings to his media organisation,” Yusufzai wrote in an article headlined “Musa Khankhel - murder of a brave journalist”.

“Musa Khankhel used to tell his colleagues at The News International that he will be killed for his work as a journalist in Swat.

“He was right,” Yusufzai wrote.

“Musa Khankhel died with his boots on. He lost his life in the line of duty.”

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