The body of a Pakistani journalist has been found dumped in a canal just hours after he went missing on his way to work.
Aziz Memon’s family has said he was brutally killed but they do not know who was behind the killing of the 56-year-old who worked as a reporter and cameraman for a local TV station in south-western Sindh province.
He went missing while going to work on Sunday.
Police chief Mohammad Farooq said the body was found in a canal in Mehrabpur village and that an investigation was under way. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the abduction and killing of Mr Memon.
His brother, Abdul Hafeez, said Mr Memon had received threats last year after reporting that a politician from the area had paid bribe money to locals to attend an opposition rally.
Later on Monday, angered over Mr Memon’s killing, journalists from various newspapers and TV stations held a peaceful protest in the southern city of Hyderabad, condemning the killing and demanding the arrest of those behind it. Hundreds attended Mr Memon’s funeral in his home town of Naushero Feroze.
The killing drew condemnation by rights activists on social media. The Committee to Protect Journalists and the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan also condemned the killing and called for an independent probe into the slaying.
An old posting of Mr Memon resurfaced on social media in which he says he received threats after covering a rally of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who heads the opposition Pakistan People’s Party. Mr Zardari also condemned the killing, demanding Mr Memon’s killers be arrested as soon as possible.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, asked the government to investigate.
Anthony Bellanger, the IFJ’s general secretary, said the organisation “mourns the shocking death of journalist Aziz Memon” and criticised the police for not following through on the threats he had reported.
Pakistan is considered a dangerous place for journalists and those involved in attacks on journalists are rarely punished. The country has also witnessed an intensified crackdown on human rights defenders, activists, journalists and members of civil society over the past years.
Journalists, who have taken on military dictators and been beaten and jailed in the pursuit of a free press, say they now face a form of censorship that is more subtle but no less chilling, spearheaded by the security services, to quash critical coverage.