In a street protest organised yesterday by the Balochistan Union of Journalists outside the Quetta Press Club in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, journalists called on their government to provide protection to media persons and arrest the killers of a journalist who was slain a few days ago, and other local news outlets reported.

The protests followed the murder on May 28 of reporter Abdul Qadir Hajizai, a correspondent for the private Balochi-language TV channel WASH TV and the headmaster of a local middle school. Local news outlets reported that Hajizai was killed by two men on a motorcycle who opened fire on him while he was on his way home. The motive for the murder remains unknown.

Also on May 28, armed men opened fire on the house of the president of the Turbat Press Club, Irshad Akhtar. Akhtar and his family were reportedly not hurt in the attack.

“We express full and ardent support for our colleagues in Pakistan, and our deepest admiration for their courage in the face of so many killings,” said IPI Press Freedom Manager Barbara Trionfi. “Pervasive impunity has fuelled the murders. The authorities in Pakistan must consider the prosecution of the killers of journalists a top priority. In failing to do so, they seriously threaten the hard-won freedom of Pakistan’s press.” Trionfi added: “Our sincerest condolences go to the family and friends of Abdul Qadir Hajizai.”

Hajizai is the fifth journalist to be killed in Pakistan this year and the second killed in Balochistan province alone, according to IPI research.

The Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) noted that since the year 2000 only one conviction has been recorded in Pakistan for the murder of a journalist – in the high-profile killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

According to IPI’s Death Watch, at least 59 journalists have been killed in Pakistan since the year 2000, making it one of the most dangerous countries for journalists.