The IPI global network is deeply concerned about the escalation of violence against journalists in Pakistan, after two reporters were killed and another journalist was assaulted in separate incidents in the span of a week. IPI calls for an immediate and independent investigation in order to determine the motive for this killing and to prosecute those responsible. We also urge the government to take immediate action to guarantee the safety of journalists in Pakistan. 

Ishtiaq Sodharo, who worked for a Sindhi weekly, was fatally shot by unidentified gunmen on July 1 in Khairpur, a district in the Sindh province in southeast Pakistan. He died of his injuries at a hospital. 

His family have accused a police officer at Ranipur police station of ordering the killing, according to reports. Police filed a FIR — a document prepared by the police when they receive a complaint about a cognizable offence — and arrested three people who allegedly attacked Sodharo outside his home, but the officer has not been taken into custody. 

This killing occurred a day before Pakistani journalist Iftikhar Ahmed was shot and killed in the country’s northwest, as IPI previously reported.

During this same week, a senior journalist for Dunya News, Ayaz Amir, was assaulted by unidentified men, just a day after criticizing army generals during a seminar. Reports of the attack sparked outrage and calls for action on social media. 

Upon taking office this April, the country’s new prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, affirmed his government’s commitment to press freedom and directed the authorities to ensure the safety of journalists. The new minister of information and broadcasting, Marriyum Aurangzeb, also stated that the constitution of Pakistan ensures freedom of expression to all citizens and the intimidation of journalists will no longer be tolerated. 

“IPI expresses deep concern over the killing of Ishtiaq Sodharo, in the same week in which another journalist was killed and another assaulted”, IPI Director of Advocacy Amy Brouillette said. “Authorities must conduct a thorough investigation to determine the motive behind this killing and bring those responsible to justice. We remind the Pakistani government of its own commitment to guarantee the safety of journalists and reiterate our demand that the government respect press freedom and take immediate action to end this deplorable and deeply concerning pattern of attacks targeting Pakistani journalists.”

In a statement published in May, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists described the recent drastic decline of freedom of expression and the press in Pakistan, where journalists are routinely harassed by both the state and non-state actors. According to the Freedom Network Pakistan Press Freedom Report 2022, 86 attacks against journalists and media practitioners took place between May 2021 and April 2022.