PESHAWAR, Jan 19: Condemning the murder of journalist Mukarram Khan Atif of Mohmand Agency, mediapersons of Peshawar and different tribal agencies took out a protest procession and held a rally here on Thursday, asking the Taliban leadership to clarify why they were targeting journalists.

Mr Atif was shot dead in Shabgadar, Charsadda, on Jan 17 and later the Taliban reportedly claimed responsibility for this.

The rally was arranged by Khyber Union of Journalists on the appeal of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, where several senior journalists expressed grave concern over the incident. They said that mediapersons had always played impartial role and given due coverage to all the stakeholders, but despite that media people were killed in the region for unknown reasons.

The speakers included PFUJ assistant secretary general Khalid Khan Kheshgi, KhUJ general secretary Yousuf Ali, Peshawar Press Club president Saiful Islam Saifi, Tribal Union of Journalists president Safdar Hayat and Sailab Mehsud.Expressing concern over the violence against journalists, they said that in the prevailing security situation performing duty had become almost impossible for them.

They asked the Taliban leadership to explain why mediapersons were targeted without any reason.

The speakers expressed the resolve that no one could stop journalists by force from dissemination of information through objective reporting. They said that Mr Atif laid down his life, but did not succumb to life threats.

Mr Saifi said that Mr Atif kept balance in his reporting and never became controversial for both sides, but even then he lost his life.

He said that the Taliban had already claimed responsibility for his murder, but they did not mention the reasons.`If the militants kill journalists for working in any American media outlet, it will be wrong as it is no sin. The Americans are freely moving in Peshawar and it is illogical to kill anyone just for the reason of working with the US media organisations,` he observed. He said that the mediapersons weredoing their duties with honesty and earning livelihood for their families through their profession.

Sailab Mehsud, journalist from Waziristan Agency, said that several mediapersons had been killed by unknown persons. He said that journalists had nothing to do with the war on terror, but just earning their livelihood through their job of informing the nation about the current situation.

KhUJ leader Yousaf Ali said that till now 24 journalists had been killed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata, but the killers were yet to be arrested.

Mr Kheshgi said that there were several groups of the militants, but they would ask the Taliban main leadership Mulla Umar in Afghanistan, Hakimullah Mehsud and others in Pakistan whether they were involved in the killing of Mr Atif and others or not so that they (journalists) could know who were behind killing of their colleagues.

TUJ leader Safdar Dawar stressed the need for making own security arrangements by the mediamen as it was useless to expect the same from the government.

Originally published here.

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