Open Letter: ASPAC Journalism Fellows Defend Threatened Colleague

 An open letter to the government of Pakistan, calling for an investigation of the attempted abduction of Dart Centre Asia Pacific Fellow Afnan Khan.

Mr. Asif Ali Zardari
President of Pakistan

Mr. Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani
Prime Minister

Federal Minister for Human Rights
Ministry of Human Rights

Mr. Lateef Khosa
Governor of Punjab

Mr Nasir Mehmood Khosa
Chief Secretary of Government of Punjab

Mr. Rana Sana Ullah
Minister of Law

Dr. Faqir Hussain
Supreme Court of Pakistan

Inspector-General of Police, Punjab
Police Head Office

Dec 10, 2011

We, journalists from across the Asia Pacific region and 2011 Dart Centre Asia Pacific Fellows and Faculty in Journalism and Trauma, are outraged by the attempt on the life and liberty of our colleague, Fellow Afnan Khan, chief reporter of the Daily Times and joint secretary of the Punjab Union of Journalists, in Lahore last December 2.

By his own account, gunmen attempted to abduct Mr. Khan and only his quick thinking and action prevented his kidnapping and, possibly, torture and murder. As Mr Khan wrote to the Station House Officer at Ghalib Market Police Station in Lahore immediately after the attempt, the plan was likely to "abduct me and torture me and give me a painful death like Saleem Shahzad, as somebody had promised in (a) previous threat call to me that they would abduct me and behead me before the camera."

We also note with alarm that Mr Khan called the police helpline three times during and after the abduction attempt but received no police assistance.

We are aware that this is not the first attempt on the life of Mr. Khan, a distinguished reporter who is also the recipient of numerous death threats. We are also aware that fifteen news professionals have been killed in Pakistan because of their work since 1992, as documented by the Committee to Protect Journalists, including three this year.

Although we are grateful that Mr. Khan is for the moment safely out of Pakistan, we call for his government to immediately investigate the threats against him. We call on all responsible authorities to ensure Mr. Khan's safety, as well as those of other journalists working in Pakistan. We likewise insist on a transparent review in to why the authorities failed to come to the assistance of a citizen in danger.

We call on the journalism community to join our voices in support of another beleaguered colleague. News professionals around the world are united in calling on Pakistan's government to respect freedom of the press and freedom of expression, and to end the bloodshed that has cost far too many journalists' lives.


Rowena C. Paraan - Philippines

Nonoy Espina - Philippines

Achara Ashayagachat - Thailand

David Dizon - Philippines

Cordula Maria Rien Kuntari - Indonesia

Amantha Perera - Sri Lanka

Ranee Mohamed - Sri Lanka

Kajalie Shehreen Islam - Bangladesh

Tamanna Khan - Bangladesh

Iqbal Khattak - Pakistan

Gary Tippet - Australia

Cait McMahon - Australia

Chong-ae Lee - South Korea

Bruce Shapiro – U.S.A

Lisa McKay – Laos

Dar Yasin – Kashmir

Krishni Ifham – Sri Lanka

Dr. Charitel Ramos – Philippines

Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma-Asia Pacific  
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