Pakistan President pledges press freedom: Group

Last Updated: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 - 11:24

Washington: Pakistani President Asif Ali
Zardari pledged to take action over the killings of
journalists, a media rights group said as it voiced alarm at a
string of slayings in the country.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said
a delegation met in Islamabad with Zardari to mark World Press
Freedom Day and gave him a list of 15 slain journalists whose
killers have gone unpunished.
"The protection of journalists is in my mandate," Zardari
was quoted as saying in a statement by the group. It said the
president asked Interior Minister Rehman Malik for a "detailed
follow-up" on the cases.

Much of the world reacted with horror in 2002 when Daniel
Pearl, an American journalist for The Wall Street Journal, was
kidnapped and beheaded in Pakistan`s largest city Karachi as
he reported on Islamic militants.

Four men including British-born Omar Sheikh were
convicted of Pearl`s murder. But the Committee to Protect
Journalists said at least 15 Pakistani reporters have died
since then and none of their killers has been brought to

"Personal experience has shown me that Pakistan is
capable of pursuing the killers of reporters," the committee`s
chairman Paul Steiger, who was managing editor of The Wall
Street Journal during Pearl`s murder, said in a statement.
"President Zardari must make it a priority to ensure that
Pakistan`s probing press is not forced to refrain from
sensitive coverage in order to stay alive," said Steiger, now
editor-in-chief of investigative reporting group ProPublica.

Pakistan has a lively media that regularly criticizes
politicians, but reporters have faced threats while covering
the extremism-related violence that has ravaged the country in
recent years.

On Sunday, US forces killed the world`s most wanted man
Osama bin Laden at a safe house in Pakistan.


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First Published: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 - 11:24

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