Opportunity for Pakistani officials to ensure proper reinvestigation of Shan Dahar murder

The IFEX network has called on Pakistani authorities at all levels to ensure a proper reinvestigation of the killing of Abb Takk television journalist Shan Dahar. Shan Dahar’s case is an emblematic case for the IFEX No Impunity Campaign and one that IFEX member the Pakistan Press Foundation is actively seeking justice for with the support of local and international media and civil society groups.

18 May 2016


President Mamnoon Hussain
Prime Minister Nawaz Sherif

Governor of Sindh, Ishrat ul Ebad Khan

Inspector General of Sindh Police, Allah Dino Khawaja

Your Excellency,

IFEX, the global network of 104 organisations promoting and defending freedom of expression worldwide, write to you to positively acknowledge the reopening of the investigation into the killing of television journalist Shan Dahar, and urge you to ensure that the new investigation is conducted in a thorough and impartial manner.

Zakir Ali – also known as Shan Dahar – was Bureau Chief of Abb Takk Television channel in Larkana district of Sindh province, Pakistan. Shan was shot in the back at 12:30am on 1 January 2014 and taken to Chandka Medical College Hospital where he remained unattended until he succumbed to his injuries later that morning.

In a decision that his family believes to be flawed and driven by outside influences, local investigators announced that the death was an accident resulting from celebratory shooting on New Year’s Eve. Shan was working on a number of potentially incendiary stories at the time. Both Shan’s family and the media community in Pakistan believe the evidence suggests the killing was retribution for his journalistic work.

Such attacks against journalists and the media are a frequent occurrence in Pakistan, with 57 documented killings occurring since 1997. As the Pakistani ‘Editors for Safety’ network recently remarked, an attack against one member of the media community is an attack against the community as a whole, due to the chilling effect and self-censorship that results.

This silencing has ripple effects across society, severely curtailing access to information that is in the public interest. In an effort to improve this situation, Pakistan is currently a pilot country receiving international assistance under the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity.

Despite this assistance, and Prime Minister Nawaz Sherif’s 2014 promise to take measures to ensure justice for attacks against journalists and to improve their security, little has been done to create real change. The investigation into the killing of Shan Dahar is an opportunity for Pakistani authorities to take concrete action and demonstrate their commitment to justice and press freedom.

A thorough and just legal response will send a strong message that the right to information of Pakistani citizens is strongly supported by Pakistan’s government, and that impunity will not continue to thrive.

We call on the relevant authorities at all levels of Pakistan’s government to monitor and support the investigation and ensure that it is free from undue outside influence, that it is timely and complete, and that all perpetrators and masterminds are identified, apprehended and brought to trial.