Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Dilawar Khan Disappears

The BBC Urdu Service has issued a statement indicating its serious concern for the disappearance of colleague Dilawar Khan Wazir -- a reporter who covers the Waziristan and NWFP region of Pakistan -- a region that is under particular duress these days as the Pakistan army (with full support from the US government) has been attacking so-called "militants" and either killing or torturing them in an attempt to wipe out what the US sees as the real threat to their personal control of Afghanistan (and Pakistan).

Khan is one of a few journalists whose background and personal knowledge of this region allow him to relatively safely navigate through it on his own. He has lived with death threats for several years and even lost a younger brother to violence last year and has now been missing since Monday when he was due to arrive home after a trip to Islamabad.

Dilawar is Persian for "brave" and Dilawar Khan is very brave indeed to cover the news in a region that does not have much regard for an open press. It's journalists like Khan who make a major difference in this world by putting their lives on the line to bring news and information to the rest of us. What the people who've kidnapped Khan do not know is that he was also helping them in his news coverage: at least a local was covering the region rather than an outsider who is likely tainted with either prejudice or ignorance.

The Pakistani government has much to answer for if Khan is not returned safely to his home. Please don't let this be another case of violence against a journalist. Dilawar, you are in our thoughts.

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