Sailab Mahsud, 2012 winner
Mahsud of RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal is one of the most prominent journalists in the Pashtun tribal areas of Pakistan and received the Burke Award for his coverage of events there. When Shiite pilgrims in three Afghan cities were attacked by suicide bombers in December 2011, Mashud not only broke the story but was the first to identify Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami as the Pakistani group claiming responsibility for the attacks.
In his more than 40 years as a reporter, Mahsud has earned an unmatched reputation in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan (FATA) for delivering breaking news and providing information to a previously marginalized faction of the population.
In 2011, Mahsud was the first to report that a group of Pakistani religious scholars were attempting to mediate talks between the government of Pakistan and the Pakistani Taliban. Later that same year, when Shiite pilgrims were attacked by suicide bombers in three Afghan cities, it was Mahsud who broke the story and identified Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami as the group claiming responsibility. International news outlets all over the world picked up his reporting and named Radio Mashaal as their source.
In 1987 Mahsud helped create the Tribal Union of Journalists in the Kurram tribal district. The organization has over 270 members from the tribal areas of Pakistan and is the only institution in FATA devoted to the welfare of journalists.
Mahsud has paid a heavy price for his honest reporting. He has been imprisoned seven times and extremist groups routinely threaten him. Yet he remains committed to providing a free and independent press.