Two tribal journalists freed after a day of captivity

PESHAWAR: Two journalists from tribal areas taken away by unidentified persons were freed on Monday night after a day of their captivity.

Shahnawaz Khan Tarkzai was picked up by unidentified armed men from inside the Shabqadar Press Club (Media Centre) in Charsadda district on Sunday, while Islam Gul Afridi was whisked away when he was on the way to Peshawar from Islamabad.

A freelancer, Junaid Ibrahim, who is also a student of the fifth semester of BS programme at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Swat, was taken away from his house in Saidu Sharif, Swat, late on Saturday.

Though he wasn’t freed by captors by Monday night, his journalist friends in Swat were optimistic about his early release following the freedom of the two Fata journalists.

Shahnawaz Tarkzai, a senior journalist, who is a Mashal Radio correspondent in tribal areas, including his native Mohmand Agency, was present at the Shabqadar Press Club, situated in Charsadda district, when some armed man had entered the club and asked him to accompany them.

The local journalists said the unidentified visitors claimed that they were taking Shahnawaz to a police station, but later on it surfaced that he was shifted to some unknown location and not the local police station.

He was set free somewhere near Hasthnagri area in Peshawar, his family members said.

They said he was taken to the Peshawar Press Club by his fellow journalists but as he was visibly disturbed and therefore, he went to his house to take rest.

Shahnawaz did not disclose who had taken him away and for what purpose.

Similarly, Islam Gul Afridi, a resident of Khyber Agency, works with Akhbar-i-Khyber and writes for its weekly magazine.

His colleagues told Dawn that recently, Islam Gul had written in the magazine about the growing incidents of land mines explosions in Waziristan to which several people mostly children had fallen victims.

His colleagues also said he was tightlipped about what happened to him in captivity.

Both Shahnawaz and Islam Gul didn’t disclose whether they were taken away by sleuths of any intelligence agency or some private persons.

About Junaid Ibrahim, one of his teachers said they had not witnessed anything objectionable about him.

He said he was an enthusiastic and bright student taking interest in making video footages of cultural and sports events.

A Swat-based journalist said in the past, Junaid had made certain contributions to a web-TV and web-newspaper, Pashtun Express, which was blocked few days ago by the federal government.

He however said Junaid’s contributions were related to some cultural events and didn’t have anything objectionable.

The missing journalist also contributed to another web-TV, The Spot Times.

The local journalists said he was only a student and small-time contributor to some websites.

They added that if anything wrong was committed by the Pashtun Express for that Junaid could not be held responsible.

Earlier in the day, an emergency general body meeting of the Khyber Union of Journalists and Peshawar Press Club was held with the participants expressing concern about the ‘disappearances’ of media persons and killing of Swabi journalist Haroon Khan.

The participants requested the federal and provincial governments and high-ups of security agencies to take notice of such incidents for corrective measures.

They decided to form a permanent committee consisting of the presidents of Peshawar Press Club and Khyber Union of Journalists and other media persons to take up these issues with the relevant quarters.

The participants asked the government to arrest the killers of Haroon Khan without delay and play its due role in the recovery of missing journalists.


The Nation : Kidnappers free two journalists