His Excellency Benazir Bhutto
Prime Minster of Pakistan
Office of the Prime Minister
Islamic Republic of Pakistan

Vienna, 1 March 1995

Your Excellency,

The International Press Institute (IPI) is most concerned about the recent attack on the offices of several publications belonging to the Nawa-e-Waqt newspaper group and the threat to press freedom this latest incident represents.

We are informed that on 25 February 1995, masked gunmen raided the premises of the independent Nawa-e-Waqt Group of Publications, which houses the offices of the Urdu-language daily newspaper Nawa-e-Waqt, the English-language daily The Nation, the weekly Family Magazine and the monthly Phool. The militants set fire to office furniture and at least eight vehicles parked outside the building. They also beat several employees, though there were no serious injuries.

We understand that although staff members telephoned both police and local administrators, law enforcement officials tool one and a half hours to arrive at the scene, while the building was allowed to burn for over three hours.

IPI, representing publishers, editors-in-chief and leading journalists from newspapers, magazines, broadcasting organisations and news agencies in 89 countries, believes that this failure on the part of the authorities to protect the safety and property of journalists is due to the critical stance of some of these publications. Moreover, it undermines Your Excellency’s attempts to portray Pakistan as a liberal, tolerant Moslem society. We therefore strongly urge that you authorize a full investigation into the incident and that the findings are made available to the public. We further urge that all possible steps are taken to protect the safety of journalists working in Pakistan.

We thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Johann P. Fritz