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Media suppressed under Musharraf regime: Report

The Committee to Protect Journalists says that nine journalists have died and 20 others "assaulted or improperly detained" in Pakistan.

india Updated: Sep 27, 2006 12:33 IST

Even as President Pervez Musharraf claims "complete press freedom" during his current US sojourn, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has said that nine journalists have died and 20 have been "assaulted or improperly detained" in Pakistan.

Stating that violence against journalists and violations of press freedom are growing in Pakistan, CPJ has called upon the Pakistan government to keep its promise to reveal all information it holds on media deaths and disappearances.

The New York-based organisation's research of the state of the Pakistani press since 2002 shows that in recent months, the shooting deaths of two journalists were apparently not investigated by the government.

The teenage brother of a BBC reporter was shot after the family's home was bombed in December last year.

In addition, five men have disappeared, two of whom emerged from more than three months in secret government detention and were finally charged.

The whereabouts of the three still missing are not known. The most recent unexplained disappearance happened on Wednesday.

CPJ has reminded Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao and Secretary of the Interior Syed Kamal Shah of the pledge they made to shed light on the deaths and disappearances.

In a meeting with a CPJ delegation in Islamabad in July, North West Frontier Province Governor Ali Mohammed Jan Orekzai had also repeated the promise.

The three officials also pledged to establish a continuing dialogue with Pakistani journalist organisations and to assure them of government support for journalists' safety - another promise they have failed to honour.

In the prominent case of the abduction and death of North Waziristan journalist Hayatullah Khan, the government has not released the findings of the special investigation led by High Court Justice Mohammed Reza Khan.

The slain journalist's family said they were not interviewed by the judge or other investigators.

Pakistani journalists tell CPJ that the lack of information poisons the atmosphere for their work and makes them fear for their safety.

"President Pervez Musharraf should immediately release the investigation's findings on an interim basis and, if Judge Khan's work was not thorough enough, insist that it be competently carried out," said CPJ executive director Joel Simon.

Simon pointed out that since the July meetings between the government and CPJ, the assault on journalists has continued.

"The record this year is chilling", Simon says, citing cases of Saeed Sarbazi of Karachi, Maqbool Hussain Sail of Dra Ismail Khan, brothers Taimor Khan and Dilawar Wazir Khan, Khairuddin Marri of Jati, Munir Ahmed Mengal of Sindh and several others who have been killed or persecuted on trumped up charges.