PPF pays tribute to journalist Muhammad Arif killed in the 2007 Karsaz blasts

On October 18, 2007, twin suicide bomb blasts rocked a crowded procession to welcome former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto upon her return to Karachi, Pakistan after eight years of self imposed exile. The explosions killed at least 200 people and injured over 500 others.

ARY One World television channel cameraman Muhammad Arif was amongst those killed in the deadly blasts.

A number of other journalists were also injured and had to be treated for shrapnel wounds.

Arif lost his life while working on the frontlines and Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) pays tribute to his work on the fourteenth anniversary of his death. Arif’s death and the numerous journalists injured in the blasts are a reminder of the need for media organizations to provide their staff with the necessary safety equipment, to carry out risk assessments before sending staff to a location and ensuring that the safety of their reporters is the first priority.

Before the fateful incident Arif had been transferred to ARY’s London office and had delayed his departure to cover Bhutto’s arrival.

ARY News Bureau Chief Ahsan Shakeel said that Arif was in a DSNG van with reporters and crew members to cover Bhutto’s rally when the first blast took place. He said that Arif then went to the site of the incident with his camera, when the second blast occurred and led to his death.

“He was a very hardworking and passionate individual,” said Shakeel, adding that the news organization had provided Arif’s family with a monthly salary, a flat and other essentials as well as a job for his son as a desk coordinator.

Shakeel noted that all basic security measures for the team had been provided on that day, however, he advised journalists to keep safety first while on duty.

Arif’s son, Junaid Arif, said that while no one from the family knows the status of the case, a collective first information report (FIR) had been registered.

“Fourteen years have passed since the incident took place, and even though it is a high profile case, it has not yet been investigated,” he said, expressing serious disappointment in the government’s seriousness towards such cases.

According to Dawn, since 2008, three inquiry committees had been set up to trace those behind the attack but had not made any progress.

Senior journalist Naeem Sahoutara told PPF that the police and allied agencies are still clueless about the perpetrators of the twin bomb attacks.

Injured Journalists

A number of other journalists were also injured and had to be treated for shrapnel wounds.

CNBC cameraman Shahzad Ismail was critically injured with shrapnel wounds that resulted in the removal of his spleen and damage to his liver and stomach. His right hand was fractured in many places. He was admitted to the intensive care unit and put on a respirator.

CNBC reporter Salman Farooq received shrapnel wounds on his right thigh that damaged his nerves as a result of which his knee cap was damaged and he lost the use of his leg.

Dawn News cameraman Abid Hussain was seriously injured with shrapnel wounds in his stomach and legs.

A reporter associated with the Electronic News Gathering (ENG) service of the state-owned Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) Rashid Ali Panhwar underwent surgery for removal of a six inch shrapnel from his abdomen.

APNA television channel reporter Shahid Anjum was hospitalized for injuries on his head.

Daily Khabrain reporter and member of the executive committee of Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) Siddique Chaudhry had to be hospitalized for multiple bone fractures on his thigh.

APP Deputy Controller of Electronic News Gathering (ENG) Haroon Rashid Toor received two pellets in his leg. He received first aid treatment at the hospital. Toor was based in Islamabad and had come to Karachi to cover the rally.

A photographer with the daily Jurrat and Reuters Syed Athar Hussain received first aid treatment at the hospital for injuries to his head and back.

 

Ends/ PPF