Taliban militants have gunned down senior tribal journalist Mukarram Khan Atif in the Shabqadar area of Charsadda district on Tuesday. Atif, who hailed from the Mohmand tribal agency, had relocated to Charsadda recently after he received threats from Taliban militants.
Station House Officer (SHO) Janzada Khan told The Express Tribune that Atif had been shot by gunmen while he was praying in a mosque. “He [Atif] was in the middle of his prayers when the men fired at him thrice, one of the bullets pierced his body and injured the Imam (prayers leader) also,” said Janzada.
After the attack, he was shifted to the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar where he was pronounced dead. Medics confirmed that Atif had received bullet injuries in his head.
Nasruminallah, the injured prayers leader, was also shifted to the hospital for treatment. During his 15-year career, Atif worked for several media organisations. Currently, he was working as correspondent for a Pakistani TV channel in Mohmand Agency and as a stringer for Voice of America (VOA)’s Pashto service ‘Deewa Radio’. He also remained President of the Mohmand Agency Press Club.
The banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for Atif’s murder. “We have been warning him to stop his propaganda against us in the foreign media. He did not include our version in his stories,” TTP spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan said in telephone calls to Peshawar-based journalists.
He warned that the TTP has several more mediapersons on their hit-list.
Journalist bodies strongly condemned the killing of Atif and urged the government to take strict action against the killers.
President, PM condemn
President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani have condemned the killing of tribal journalist Mukurram Khan Atif.
In a message, the president offered his condolences to the bereaved family. He prayed to Almighty Allah to rest the departed soul in eternal peace and grant courage to the bereaved family to bear the irreparable loss with fortitude.
The prime minister also offered condolences to the family and directed the authorities concerned to apprehend the perpetrators of this heinous crime and bring them to justice.
He said the nation was united against the forces of terrorism and militancy and such cowardly acts would not deter the people from defeating the enemies of religion and humanity. (With additional inputs from APP)
Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2012.