(September 15, 2015) – Slain tribal journalist Malik Mumtaz Khan’s son Malik Suleman Khan received the RMNP Sadiq Press Freedom Award 2014 and prize money of Rs 60,000 in an event organized by the Rural Media Network Pakistan (RMNP) at Punjab College AhmedpurEast on Sunday evening.
The ceremony was co-chaired by President RMNP Ehsan Ahmed Sehar and intellectual Hassan Askar Sheikh, with Ex-PPP MNA Arif Aziz Sheikh as the chief guest.
The former President of the Press Club Miranshah, North Waziristan, Malik Mumtaz Khan was shot dead by unidentified armed persons on February 27, 2013 while he was on his way to home.
Speakers at the awards ceremony – President BUJ Majeed Gill, ExPPP MNA Arif Aziz Sheikh, Deputy Director Information Bahawalpr Nasir Hameed, PPP leader Mohd Ali Ahsan, PML(N) leaders Mian Mohd Younas, Mehar Abdul Rehman, PML(QA) leader Salahuddin Jeelani, ExChairman Municipal Committee Mian Ilyas Ayaz, and journalists Zafar Iqbal Minhas, Iftikhar Alvi and Ahmed Khan Babar – each paid rich tribute to Malik Mumtaz Khan, and offered their condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. They demanded the government to arrest the killers without further delay and give compensation to Malik Mumtaz Khan’s heirs.
Majeed Gill, President of the Bahawalpur Union of Journalists, presented the RMNP shield to Malik Suleman Khan, acknowledging his slain father Malik Mumtaz Khan’s courage and dedication with the profession. Hassan Askari Sheikh presented PKR 60 000 sponsored by World Association of Newspapers & News publishers (WAN-IFRA).
Malik Suleman Khan thanked RMNP for selecting his slain father for the WAN-IFRA sponsored award. He complained that despite the PKR 1Million announcement made by former Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari as compensation for the killing, not a single penny has been paid.
Similarly he reported that his father’s employer Jang-Geo group neither accommodated the family nor offered him a job, despite his having the required qualification. He hoped that the RMNP would expand its activities in near future to encourage victimized media persons in both rural and urban areas.
The President of RMNP, Ehsan Ahmed Khan Sehar, said that Pakistan is ranked 158 out of 180 countries in this year’s World Press Freedom Index and has one of the highest murder rates for journalists. He stated that there was almost no space for freedom of expression in the country, which provides a free playing field for law enforcement authorities and extremist religious and militant groups to act as they please.
President RMNP said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had announced the appointment of a Commission for the protection of journalists in a meeting with a CPJ delegation in Islamabad, but no further action has been taken so far. No mechanisms have been developed to stop the attacks on media houses. Political parties, pressure groups and religious militant groups continuously attack media houses and journalists in an effort to dictate their policies, he added. He revealed a report that of 250 journalists from seven agencies and six frontier regions, one third have already moved to other areas and quit journalism. Journalists in FATA are working for multiple organizations – most as correspondents, freelancers and stringers. Sadly, not all have the luxury of being employed under a formal contract.
Also attending the award ceremony were Deputy Director Information Bahawalpur Division Nasir Hameed, Bahawalpur National Awami Party (BNAP) Central President Mian Ilyas Ayaz , District President PML(QA) Syed Salahuddin Ahmed Jeelani, District General Secretary PPP Bahawalpur Muhammad Ali Ahsan, Chairman Market Committee andPresident Markazi Anjuman Mian Mohd Younas, PML(N) leader Mehar Abdul Rehman Anjum, Professor Shehzad Ahmed Khan, and the presidents of Press clubs from Tehsil Sadar Bahawalpur, Tranda Muhammad Panah, Chanigoth, Mubarakpur, Khanqah Sharif, AhmedpurEast, and Samasatta.
President Ehsan Ahmed Sehar also announced that RMNP will give another press freedom award on May 3, 2015, on the eve of World Press Freedom Day.
Photo (top) – Majeed Gill presents RMNP Sadiq Press Freedom Award 2014 to Malik Suleman Khan, son of slain journalist Malik Mumtaz Khan.