PPF remembers Wali Khan Babar, young voice killed for speaking truth

Journalist Wali Khan Babar, 29, reporter of Geo News was shot dead on January 13, 2011 in Liaquatabad area of Karachi. Babar was returning home from the Geo News office after performing his professional responsibilities, when two assailants on a motorcycle intercepted his car at 9:21pm and shot him five times through the driver’s window at close range. He received five bullets — two in his forehead, one in the jaw and two in his neck.

He left behind a widow mother, three sisters and four brothers.

My brother was killed for his journalistic work but I am happy that at least his killers were arrested. Four killers were released by Sindh High court later after 10 years of imprisonment while the main two killers Faisal alias Mota and Kamran alias Zeeshani Shani are still in jail, Murtaza Khan, brother of Wali Babar told PPF.

President Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Shehzada Zulfiqar told PPF that Wali was killed for reporting against the political party Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). He was reporting the truth, if a party had any issues with his reporting style they should discuss this with his organization or could use the legal way.

Democracy’s main element is accountability, no country can be a true democratic country without press freedom. Government and all organizations should accept positive criticism, Zulfiqar added.

On March 01 2014, the Anti-Terrorism court convicted six of the accused of murder, including Faisal Mehmood alias Faisal Mota and Kamran alias Zeeshan who were convicted in absentia and given a death sentence. They were workers of a political party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).

Also convicted and sentenced were included Faisal Mehmood alias Nafsyati, Naveed alias Polka, Muhammad Ali Rizvi and Shahrukh alias Mani who were sentenced to life imprisonment. One accused identified as Shakeel was set free due to lack of evidence.

This decision marks the only instance where the killers of a Pakistani journalist were convicted. However, during the murder trial, nine witnesses were murdered including policemen and prosecutors and the trial had to be moved several times due to ongoing security threats.

Faisal alias Mota was arrested from Nine Zero, the headquarters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement on 11 March 2015, while Kamran alias Zeeshani Shani was arrested by a Special Investigation Unit, Federal Intelligence Agency on June 15, 2020.

Karachi Police Chief Ghulam Nabi Memon, after the arrest of Kamran alias Zeeshani Shani revealed that Zeeshan told the investigators that they killed Wali Khan Babar because he worked for ANP and was making stories against the MQM and Altaf Hussain.

The police chief maintained that the ‘shooter’ joined the MQM (London) in 2008 and became part of Faisal alias Mota’s target killing team.