Pakistan Press Foundation commemorates the life of Misri Khan Orakzai, a journalist who sacrificed his life in the line of duty

Eleven years ago on September 14, 2010, senior journalist, President of the Hangu Union of Journalist (HUJ) and correspondent for number of newspapers including Daily Ausaf and Daily Mashriq, Misri Khan Orakzai 48, was shot dead by three unidentified men in front of Hangu Press Club, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Early morning when Orakzai was entering the press club three unknown men opened fire on him. The assailants escaped from the scene leaving Orakzai severely injured.

Orakzai received multiple bullets and one of the bullet entered his heart, he was taken to the District Headquarters Hospital, Hingu where he died.

A criminal complaint was registered against the unidentified armed men. No one claimed the responsibility when the initial reports was registered, later Tehreek-e-Taliban claimed the responsibility of the incident.

In July 2021, Shafiullah, Head Moharrar of City Police Station told PPF that FIR 590/2010 was registered in City Police Station against the murder of Misri Khan Orakzai by his son Umer Farooq, he provided the details of the incident and police started the investigation from the same day and arrested four accused, two brothers Fida Muhammad and Hussain Muhammad son of Ali and Faiq and Gul Jan son of Sikandar Rashid. All the accused were presented in Additional Session Court, the court released the accused and ordered to close the case.

Zahid, son of Orakzai and currently President of Hangu Press Club told PPF that Tahreek-e-Taliban claimed the responsibility of Orakzai’s murder. Ehsanullah Ehsan, spoke person for the Taliban contacted journalist in Peshawar and said, “We killed him because he twisted the facts”. Zahid added that Orakzai’s office was also set on fire because of his stories. In 2009, Taliban kidnaped him and also fixed bomb to their house.  Police arrested a drug addict and pressurized us to accept him as an accused”.

Orakzai reported number of threats to police also provided phone numbers he received calls from to police to trace them but no measures were taken, Zahid added.

Orakzai’s son, Umer Farooq, said his father had been receiving threats for quite some time through phone calls and his office had been attacked thrice.

Orakzai was running a news agency named as Misri Khan Agency that was providing news from his province specially conflicted areas to nine major news outlets including Express News, Daily Ausaf, Daily Mashriq, and few others in 2010. Most of the news stories were related to the militant activities in Hangu and KPK province. Three of his sons are now running this news agency.

Zahid, son of Orakzai mentioned that it was unfortunate that none of the media outlets stood beside the slain journalist’s family and become their voice in demand for justice. The Interior Minister then Rehman Malik announced government jobs for two sons of Orakzai, and free education for all his children as well as compensation of ten lacs but none of the promises were fulfilled. Orakzai had been working as a journalist for about three decades. He was also a social worker in the area and played an active role in highlighting local problems.

Former President Asif Ali Zardari called Orakzai’s murder a “heinous and despicable act of terrorism.”

At the time of incident the Hangu Union of Journalists, Khyber Union of Journalists, Tribal Union of Journalists all condemned the murder on Orakzai, demanded arrest of the perpetrators from authorities, they set a mourning period of three days and threatened protests if the government didn’t take action.

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalist (PFUJ) strongly condemned the murder of Orakzai, in a statement PFUJ demanded that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government compensate deceased’s family which includes his widow, six sons and five daughters. It is government’s apathy in protecting the lives and property of journalists, adding that this incident once again makes it clear that the lives of media workers in conflict areas are not safe, and killing media workers has become the order of the day.

 

Translation