(September 10, 2014) – Rural Media Network Pakistan is pleased to announce the late Malik Mumtaz Khan, former president of the Press Club Miranshah, North Waziristan is the winner of the RMNP Sadiq Press Freedom Award 2014, acknowledging his courage and dedication to his profession.
His son Mohammad Suleman Khan will be awarded cash prize of PKR 60,000 during a ceremony in Ahmedpur East, District Bahawalpur on September 14, 2014. Malik Mumtaz Khan is the first tribal journalist nominated for award, sponsored by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) .
“The recognition of Malik Mumtaz Khan for the award is a symbol of struggle for the right of information and a reminder to international community about the tragic conditions Pakistan has been suffering since the war on terror after 9/11 attacks,” said Ehsan Ahmed Sehar, President of Rural Media Network Pakistan.
Malik Mumtaz Khan, 48 years old and based in Miranshah , the main town in North Waziristan, in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas, was shot dead on 27th February 2013. He was associated with Khyber Television, GEO News and the Jang Newspapers Group and had a journalistic experience of 20 years. He was also elected as president of the Press Club Miranshah. Malik Mumtaz Khan left behind a widow, two sons and a daughter. As per RMNP monitoring Khan was on his way to his home near Miranshah when he was gunned down by unidentified armed men waiting in a vehicle with tinted windows of the kind widely used by militants. North Waziristan remained in the grip of Pakistani and foreign militants so it was hard for journalists to work freely. It is the first time in North Waziristan’s history that the Pakistani Army has waged the successful operation Zarbe-Azb against militants.
Pakistan has become one of the deadliest place for journalists now, where seven journalists and five media workers lost their lives up to 10th September this year as per monitoring of RMNP. One media worker and three journalists were shot dead in two consecutive days in the month of August 2014, said RMNP President Ehsan Sehar.
The RMNP President stated that despite the passage of more than 18 months, the killers of Malik Mumtaz Khan have not been brought to justice. Khan was receiving threats for some time but no group has so far claimed responsibility. Even Tehreek-e-Taliban denied that it was in any way involved in his murder, though family sources said that they have no personal enmity. He said that journalists working in the Federally Administrative Tribal Areas (FATA) have been facing multifaceted threats since the onset of the global war on terror. Pressure from security agencies and administration, threats from militant groups and expectations from tribal leaders make the job of reporting all over more difficult. Striking a balance between unbiased reporting and self-preservation on a daily basis creates a lot of stress, he maintained.
The RMNP Sadiq Press Freedom Award was founded in March, 2005 to honour late Nawab Sir Sadiq Muhmmad Khan Khamis Abbasi,the last ruler of former Princely Bahawalpur State, who had given the right of adult franchise to the inhabitants of the former Bahawalpur province in 1954. Other citizens of Pakistan were allowed to exercise this right in 1970.
The aim of this award is to recognize the courage and commitment of journalists and media organizations. Another aspect of the award is to focus national and international attention towards the state of media freedom in Pakistan. We hope that in future the award will promote a favourable culture for the freedom of expression.