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Watchdog Calls For Justice After Pakistani Reporter Killed For Covering Protected Bird Hunting

A houbara bustard is seen at a zoo in Lahore.
A houbara bustard is seen at a zoo in Lahore.

An international media-rights watchdog is calling for an independent investigation into the killing of an amateur video reporter who drew attention to hunting trips for Arab dignitaries from the Persian Gulf.

The body of Nazim Sajawal Jokhiyo was found near the northwestern Pakistani city of Karachi on November 3, hours after he said in a video posted online that he was being threatened over a previous video he shot that showed poachers organizing a hunting party for "foreign guests."

Police said they arrested two men suspected of beating Jokhiyo to death, but Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in a statement on November 5 that officials must go further and also go after those who gave the orders for the killing.

Pakistan is ranked 145th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.

The International Federation of Journalists says Pakistan is among the "most dangerous countries to practice journalism," with 138 journalists killed in the country between 1990 and 2020.

A Pakistani media-rights watchdog, Freedom Network, says of the 33 journalists killed in Pakistan between 2013 and 2019, no one has been punished.

RSF said Jokhiyo went to Jangshahi to cover the arrival of several foreign hunters who had been invited by a member of the Sindh Province assembly to hunt the Asian houbara bustard, a threatened bird species.

Hunting this animal is banned in Pakistan, except for wealthy dignitaries from the Persian Gulf monarchies, according to the Paris-based group.

Jokhiyo's video ends when a man is seen approaching the camera and threatening him as he grabs at the device.

Following several threats, the provincial lawmaker of the Pakistan People's Party, Jam Owais Gohram Jokhiyo, invited the amateur video reporter to his country house to "patch up" the dispute, according to RSF.

It said Jokhiyo went there on November 2, the last time witnesses saw him alive.

"The brutality with which Nazim Jokhiyo was eliminated is all the more shocking because his murder was premeditated by a parliamentarian who is well-known in the region," said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF's Asia-Pacific desk.

"We call on Sindh chief minister Murad Ali Shah to order an independent investigation to identify the perpetrators and instigators of the murder of Nazim Jokhiyo, who paid with his life for trying to inform his fellow citizens about a local despot's abuses," Bastard added.

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