WASHINGTON D.C. – Voice of America is urging authorities in Pakistan to take additional steps to protect journalists in the volatile Northwestern Tribal areas, where a reporter for a local TV network was killed today and a VOA journalist narrowly escaped harm in a shooting incident on Monday.
Local journalist Fayaz Zafar, a regular contributor to VOA’s Deewa Radio and other local stations, was returning to his home in the Swat Valley with two other journalists, when they were attacked by suspected Taliban gunmen. Police escorting the reporters fired back at the gunmen and foiled the attack.
“I am thankful to almighty Allah for protecting me and will continue balanced journalism in future,” Zafar said in a statement after the attack.
In Washington, VOA Deewa Radio Chief Nafees Takar said, “We are grateful the police were able to intervene to stop this attack and we hope authorities will take additional measures to protect journalists who risk their lives to provide the region with news and information.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists has also called on Pakistan to launch an investigation into the targeted murder of veteran journalist Malik Mumtaz, who was shot dead by unidentified gunmen as he drove to him home Wednesday in North Waziristan.
In January of 2012, local VOA reporter Mukarram Khan Aatif was killed near Peshawar in an attack claimed by the Taliban. Pakistan has consistently ranked one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.
VOA Deewa broadcasts regional and international news to over 40 million Pashto-speaking Pakistanis and Afghans through shortwave and medium wave radio, Internet and on direct-to-home satellite.