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Exiled Afghan journalist shot, injured in Pakistan

Journalist Ahmad Hanayesh is seen in this undated courtesy image from RFE/RL.
Journalist Ahmad Hanayesh is seen in this undated courtesy image from RFE/RL.

An exiled Afghan journalist was shot in Pakistan on Wednesday, prompting calls from press freedom groups for the Pakistani government to investigate the incident.

Ahmad Hanayesh was shot on Wednesday evening by two gunmen on a motorcycle when he was returning home in the capital Islamabad, according to the press freedom group the Committee to Protect Journalists, or CPJ.

The journalist was taken to a hospital for surgery on his foot and treatment for a non-life threatening head injury. It’s currently unclear who targeted the reporter and whether the motive was related to his work. Pakistani police said that they are looking into the incident, according to media reports.

Hanayesh, who is also known by his birth name Abdul Aleem Saqib, owned two radio stations in northern Afghanistan before he fled to Pakistan after the Taliban returned to power in 2021. He also reported for the Afghan Service of VOA’s sister outlet Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

CPJ called for the Pakistani government to launch an investigation into the attack.

“The assault on Ahmad Hanayesh requires a thorough investigation by Pakistani authorities, who must ensure that the culprits are held to account,” Carlos Martinez de la Serna, CPJ’s program director, said in a statement.

“It is imperative for Pakistan to safeguard the hundreds of Afghan journalists who have sought refuge within its borders, out of fear for their lives, because of the Taliban’s crackdown on media freedom,” he added in the statement.

The press freedom group Reporters Without Borders estimated in 2023 that more than 200 Afghan journalists have fled to neighboring Pakistan.

Press freedom groups consider Pakistan to be quite dangerous for journalists, especially those who report critically on the Pakistani government and military. Since 1992, CPJ has documented 64 journalists who were killed in the country over their work. In many of the cases, no one has been held accountable.

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