Afrique Ameriques Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
Pakistan 8 October 2007

Military officer in tribal areas threatens journalist with kidnap

Reporters Without Borders today voiced grave concern about the safety of Sailab Mehsud, working for the newspaper The News and for Al-Jazeera in Dera Ismail Kahn, south of Peshawar, after an officer in Pakistani military intelligence insulted and threatened him with death.

Mehsud, who is also editor of the regional news website Karwan-e-Qabial ( and formerly chaired the Tribal Union of Journalists (TUJ), was threatened in connection with his reporting on a clash the previous evening between the army and the Taliban in the tribal area of South Waziristan.

"We call on the new head of the Pakistani Army, General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, to order an investigation into this serious incident, which threatens the life and work of this journalist who has committed himself to reporting on the situation in the tribal areas," Reporters Without Borders said.

"It is vital that the person who made these threats and insults should be punished. We express our complete solidarity with Sailab Mehsud", the organisation added.

Mehsud told the worldwide press freedom organisation that a Military Intelligence (MI) officer based in Dera Ismail Kahn called him on his mobile phone on 30 September and threatened him with abduction.

"He introduced himself as a member of Military Intelligence based at Dera Ismail Khan, insulted me and said I would disappear and that future generations would never find me. Then he insulted my mother", he said. "I was completely demoralised after this incident. No-one has ever spoken about my mother, who is very dear to me, in such terms before."

"I spoke to the military spokesman about it, who told me to send him a written complaint. The MI should be held responsible if anything happens to me," Mehsud added.

Another journalist originally from the tribal areas, Hayatullah Khan, correspondent for Pakistani dailies Nation and Ausaf and a photographer for the European Press Photo Agency (EPA), was kidnapped in December 2005 and murdered in circumstances which have never been fully elucidated. Despite three official reports, the authorities have never seriously attempted to indentify and try those responsible.

In this country
26 May - Pakistan
Video on plight of Swat valley journalists
26 May - Pakistan
Joint open letter from the IFJ and RSF to the President regarding threats made against journalists
15 May - Pakistan
Emergency funds for journalists who have had to flee Swat valley fighting
12 May - Pakistan
Journalists flee Swat valley en masse
6 May - Pakistan
Media in danger in Swat valley

in the annual report
Pakistan - Annual report 2007
Pakistan - Annual report 2006

4 May 2009 - Nepal
Mission report : A call to end violence and impunity
2 April 2009 - Pakistan
Fact-finding visit by Reporters Without Borders to Swat “valley of fear”
16 March 2009 - Afghanistan
Report of fact-finding mission : Press freedom in free-fall in run-up to presidential election

Asia archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

Asia press releases
3 June - North Korea
Pyongyang judges asked to be lenient with two American journalists
3 June - Afghanistan
US forces arrest a journalist in Khost
3 June - China
“Tank Man” photo displayed outside Chinese embassy in Paris on eve of Tiananmen Square massacre
2 June - China
Blocking of Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Blogger deprives Chinese of Web 2.0
2 June - Sri Lanka
Press freedom activist badly beaten in Colombo, hospitalised