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SHABQADAR: Eyes were wet, the hearts writhing in grief and faces having countless questions as Mukarram Khan Atif, a senior journalist who fell victim to the first target killing in 2012, was laid to rest here on Wednesday

Stringent security measures were taken at the high school in Subhan Khwar where the funeral prayer was offered and at the Akhun Zafar Baba graveyard where he was laid to rest. The personnel of the Frontier Constabulary and police were standing alert to avert any untoward incident at the funeral and burial place. Despite fears of attack, a large number of journalists, political workers and local tribesmen attended the funeral.

Everyone was sad. The journalists seemed more concerned. They did not know what to do to stop the serial killing of media persons. Fingers were also pointed at the government and the state institutions, which according to journalists, have failed to protect the lives of media personnel despite demands from national and international journalist organisations.

Mukarram Khan Atif is the first journalist to be killed this year. Before him 23 journalists had been killed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and adjacent tribal belt. Trained as trainer to educate journalists on how to protect their lives, Mukarram himself was targeted by unknown people, though later the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for his killing.

Earlier, TTP had claimed responsibility for the killing of Misri Khan, the president of Hangu Press Club, in September 2010.The 43-year-old Mukarram Khan was a dignified man with an endearing personality. He was a man of few words. Everyone present at his burial praised his qualities of head and heart.

He was planning to marry the second time in February with permission of his wife, as they didn’t have any children. “We had made arrangements for his second marriage next month,” his younger brother Muslim Khan told The News at the graveyard. The deceased had two brothers.

Security threats had forced him to shift along with his family to Shabqadar in Charsadda district from his native Ghazi Baig in Mohmand Agency. This proved a futile effort as he was attacked in a mosque adjacent to his house while offering ‘maghrib’ prayers. He succumbed to the multiple injuries, he sustained in the head, neck and chest, after being shifted to the Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar. Associated with the Pashto language Deewa Radio of the Voice of America and a Pakistani television channel, Mukarram was a thorough professional.

Originally published here.

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