Posted on | maart 27, 2012 | No Comments
Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, President of Pakistan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Re: PAKISTAN: Taliban threaten Associated Press journalist
Dear President of Pakistan,
Name of victim: Mr. Ashraf Khan, correspondent at Karachi, Associated Press (AP), 808-A, Saima Trade Tower, I. I. Chundrigar Road, Karachi, Pakistan
Names of alleged perpetrators: Mr. Abu Hamza Karachvi, Tehreek-e-Taliban, Karachi circle, Sindh province
Date of incident: February 21, 2012
Place of incident: Karachi, Sindh province
I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the life threats to a journalist; Ashraf Khan of Associated Press (AP), a USA based news agency operating in Pakistan, from Taliban, Karachi chapter, and his family members from Taliban Pakistan.
It is very shocking for me that the management of AP has refused to find ways and means to ensure the security of Khan and his family members. Rather Mr. Khan has been asked by the company to leave the organization. He has become victim of life threats on one hand and unemployed on the other hand.
I am informed that on 21 February, Ashraf Khan received a hand written letter from chief of the Taliban Karachi chapter in Urdu language which threatened him that he is under watch and the letter is first and the last warning. The translation of the letter is here;
” Ashraf Khan: Stop representing infidel media and enmity against Islam. Your every story is comprised anti-Islamic report. We have close watch on your movement. Take this letter as your first and the last warning
Abu Hamza Karachvi
27th Rabi ul Awal, 1433 H” Please find the copy of hand written threat in the link.
Ashraf Khan immediately contacted AP’s head office at Islamabad, capital of Pakistan, and informed about the written threat from Taliban Pakistan. He advised him to leave the city immediately for Islamabad along with his family. He moved to Islamabad the next day and stayed there for over a week. During his stay at Islamabad he kept in touch with the AP officials inside Pakistan and at its world headquarters at New York, USA, to find the ways and means to ensure the security of him and his family. He also told them that when the Taliban or Al Qaida threatens any person then they mean that and implement the orders according to their high command. It is any how possible to deal with the government and state intelligence in the case of threats but for Al Qaida and Taliban, according to their practices, there is no way to stop them or deal. He requested the company to facilitate him to leave the country for the US.
The irony of the whole episode is that after passing of one month AP told him to leave the company and they cannot help in providing protection to him or settling outside the country.
Last week, the chief of Pakistan office of the AP telephoned Ashraf Khan and told him that the matter had been discussed with the big bosses and it would not be possible to relocate him to the US because of the policy shift in the aftermath of 9/11. He candidly suggested that the threatening letter says that Ashraf works for AP, which is accused by the Taliban as an infidel media. So it would be safe for Ashraf if he quits. The chief of AP in Pakistan further said that AP would pay Ashraf money for his sustenance. It was very shocking for Ashraf Khan and he felt himself a very insecure while under threats from terrorists. Ashraf Khan told his superior officials of AP that the news agency’s advice is no more than an ‘economic murder’ and he would become a soft target. The AP has also not indicated him that if he leaves the company then how the AP would pay him. The office is still tight lipped on the mode of payment after he leaves the company.
I am aware that the family of Ashraf Khan is in serious distress and they are paranoid and extremely suspicious of the atmosphere. Any unknown call on their cell phone puts them in anguish. The children are most victim of the whole situation and they cannot attend their schools. It has become an agony for Ashraf Khan’s family who are deeply anguished about their well being as well as about the life of Ashraf Khan.
Being a victim of militant threats and unemployment Ashraf Khan cannot report this case to the police, because of company’s permission is required and secondly, if he reports then it will invite the terrorists to take revenge.
The journalist feels that he has been a victim of racial discrimination, as a Pakistani journalist, by the officials of AP, which behaves irresponsibly and non-professionally while the life of its journalist is under serious threat.
I therefore urge you to provide protection to Ashraf Khan and his family members who are under direct threats from Taliban Pakistan. Both the government of Pakistan and the Associated Press, as employer of the journalist, have undeniable obligation to ensure protection of Mr. Ashraf Khan and his family. I also urge you to take action against the person who has sent him the death threat letter and resides in the Karachi. The AP, a news agency operating in Pakistan, should follow the laws of the country and file a report at police and it should also provide protection to Ashraf Khan and his family.
AUTHOR: William Nicholas Gomes
E-MAIL: williamgomes.org [at] gmail.com