Friends and colleagues of slain VOA reporter Mukarram Khan Aatif paid tribute Friday to a “courageous man” who refused to be intimidated by the Pakistani militants who took responsibility for his murder.
VOA Director David Ensor noted that Mr. Aatif, “had been threatened many times, but he refused to stop doing what he believed in.” Mr. Aatif, who also worked for local Pakistani television, was buried on Wednesday amid an outpouring of grief and frustration by other journalists in Pakistan, who urged the government to fully investigate his murder.
The head of VOA’s Deewa Radio service, Nafees Takar, called the assassination a “huge loss for Deewa and a tragedy for his family and friends.” Richard M. Lobo, the Director of the U.S. International Broadcasting Bureau, joined the VOA Director and others at the agency’s headquarters in Washington for a moment of silence to pay tribute to Mr. Aatif. Ensor said, “Deewa remains committed to bringing fair and unbiased news to the people of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas.”
Mr. Aatif is the third journalist reporting for the Voice of America to be killed in the line of duty. He is the first reporter to be killed this year in Pakistan, which has been described as the most dangerous country in the world for journalists.
A spokesman for the Taliban claimed responsibility for the murder of Mr. Aatif, who was shot several times during evening prayers Tuesday at a mosque near his home in the volatile Northwest tribal area of Pakistan.
VOA’s Deewa Radio and television broadcasts in the Pashto language to the lawless tribal region along the border with Afghanistan. For more information about this release contact Kyle King at the Public Relations office in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit our main English language site at www.voanews.com for more information about any of our programs.