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Media Freedom Group Calls For Pakistani Journalist's Release

An international media-freedom watchdog has urged Pakistan to immediately release a reporter who was detained for his coverage of this week's violently repressed protests by minority Pashtuns in a northwestern region near the Afghan border.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said in a May 28 statement that Gohar Wazir, a reporter working for the private TV station Khyber News, was detained in the town of Bannu after reporting on one of the protests staged by the Pashtun Protection Movement (PTM), a group campaigning against the perceived brutality of Pakistani security forces against ethnic Pashtuns.

Thousands of PTM supporters protested in major cities across the region over the past several days, chanting slogans against the army and demanding the release of their leaders.

Wazir's arrest came days after the group led by two lawmakers clashed with troops at an army post in the North Waziristan district, setting off a shootout that wounded five troops and killed three activists.

"Gohar Wazir should not have to face arrest merely for doing the job of reporting the news, even reporting on controversial events such as protests by the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement," Steven Butler, CPJ Asia program coordinator, said. .

"Restrictions on Pakistan's media only serve to undermine the strength of Pakistan's democracy," Butler added.

With reporting by AP