Hayatullah Khan (journalist)

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Hayatullah Khan
Born 1976
Died 2006
Waziristan, Pakistan
Nationality Pakistani
Ethnicity Pashtun
Occupation Journalist
Religion Islam
Spouse Deceased
Children 5

Hayatullah Khan (1976–2006) was a Pakistani journalist who reported from Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Khan wrote extensively on Al-Qaeda, Taliban and the heavy fighting among tribes in Waziristan, where he was found dead six months after his reporting contradicted Pakistan's official statements. He reported from the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which at the time was one of the most dangerous places in the world.[1][2][3][4]


Hayatullah Khan was a journalist for the Urdu-language daily Ausaf and his work was distributed through the European Pressphoto Agency. He took 14 hours of videotape for the PBS Frontline documentary Return of The Taliban (2002).[5] He also worked as a fixer for foreign journalists, and according to Eliza Griswold, he could charge high fees because of the dangers in Waziristan and his strong work ethic and experience.[6]

In 7 August 2001, the Committee to Protect Journalists wrote a letter to the Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf after Hayatullah Khan had gone into hiding when the government threatened him with arrest because of his reports about skirmishes among tribes in Waziristan region.[7]


His dead body was discovered in June 2006, six months after he had been kidnapped by five unidentified gunmen on 5 December 2005, which his brother Haseenullah had witnessed.[6][8] According to the Daily Times one of the mysteries surrounding his death was that his kidnappers had kept him alive for all the months his whereabouts were unknown.[9]

Just days before his kidnapping, the Pakistani authorities had said an al-Qaeda commander they named as Abu Hamza Rabia had been killed with four others in a blast at an alleged militant hideout in North Waziristan. The official version was that bomb-making materials had exploded by accident, but locals said the men were killed by a missile fired from an unmanned U.S. drone. However, Khan took photographs of what appeared to be pieces of a U.S. Hellfire missile at the scene.[10] The pictures provoked angry protests in Pakistan at the infringement of Pakistani territory by U.S. forces.[6] While both the authorities and local militant groups denied any involvement in his killing, allegations persisted that Pakistan intelligence agencies were involved.

On 17 November 2007, Hayatullah's widow was murdered by a bomb that was detonated outside her home. Preliminary evidence indicates she was the target of the attack.[11][12] According to the Daily Times she been interview, that her husband had warned her "something" might happen to him, and had named individuals who would know know why he had been killed. Her death left their five young children orphaned.

Umar Cheema, writing for the Committee to Protect Journalists observed that while a judicial inquiry was conducted, it was never made public, and no police investigation ever took place.[2]


Khan was the fifth, and most high-profile, journalist to be killed in Waziristan in two years, where working conditions for journalists are very hostile who face death threats from the Taliban and harassment from the military.[13]

According to the Tribal Union of Journalists in Pakistan, the number of local journalist had diminished as a result of the dangers in Waziristan. As a result of his death, journalists went on strike and the Pakistan government began an investigation, but no report has ever been released.[1]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Dietz, Bob (February 5, 2007). "Attacks on the Press 2006: Asia Analysis". Committee to Protect Journalists. http://cpj.org/2007/02/attacks-on-the-press-2006-analysis-afghanpakistani.php. Retrieved 11 October 2011. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Umar Cheema (2012-04). "Pakistan's response to UNESCO shows true colors". Committee to Protect Journalists. http://www.cpj.org/blog/2012/04/pakistans-lack-of-response-to-unesco-shows-true-co.php. Retrieved 2012-04-19. "UNESCO sought reports on the murders of 12 Pakistani journalists between 2006 and 2009. During this time, Pakistani authorities only held one judicial inquiry -- into the case of Hayatullah Khan, murdered in June 2006. The judge who led the investigation submitted a report to Pakistani authorities on August 2006. But the report was shoved under the carpet, and repeated requests by the country's journalism community to make it public have fallen on deaf ears."  mirror
  3. "Media watchdog urges Pakistan and US to reveal where Hayatullah is". Daily Times. 2006-04-13. http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2006\04\13\story_13-4-2006_pg7_8. Retrieved 2012-04-19. "New York-based media rights group Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Tuesday urged the United States and Pakistan to provide information about missing tribal journalist Hayatullah Khan, after his brother claimed he was in US custody."  mirror
  4. "PFUJ demands action against journalist’s killers". Daily Times. 2006-12-05. http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2006\12\05\story_5-12-2006_pg7_23. Retrieved 2012-04-19. "The PFUJ-affiliated Khyber Union of Journalists (KhUJ) and the Tribal Union of Journalists (TUJ) in a joint report on Monday said that intelligence agencies might have had a hand in the incident. The detailed report will be released later. Tribal journalist Hayatullah Khan was kidnapped on December 5 last year and found dead on June 16 this year near his hometown Mir Ali in North Waziristan Agency."  mirror
  5. Smith, Martin. "Producers' Dispatches from the Field: An American Informer". PBS Frontline. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/search/behind/21.html. Retrieved 11 October 2011. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Dietz, Bob (September 20, 2006). "The Last Story: Hayatullah Khan". Committee to Protect Journalists. http://cpj.org/reports/2006/09/khan.php. Retrieved 11 October 2011. 
  7. Cooper, Ann K.. "Pakistan: Journalist in hiding after local authorities threaten his arrest over coverage of tribal clashes". CPJ Protest Letter. Committee to Protect Journalists. https://cpj.org/protests/01ltrs/Pakistan07aug01pl.html. Retrieved 11 October 2011. 
  8. "Who killed Hayatullah Khan?". Asia Media. 17 June 2006. http://www.asiamedia.ucla.edu/article.asp?parentid=47732. Retrieved 2007-11-25. 
  9. "The press is under attack". Daily Times. 2006-06-18. http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2006\06\18\story_18-6-2006_pg3_1. Retrieved 2012-04-19. "What is surprising is that whoever kidnapped Mr Dawar should have taken seven months to kill him. Why was he kept confined for that long and then finally killed? Were the kidnappers trying to cut some sort of deal with him to ensure that he would not be a troublemaker in the future nor spill the beans about who had kidnapped and tortured him, failing which they decided to get rid of him? Or did Mr Dawar get to know something in captivity that he was not supposed to know and which the kidnappers could not afford to make public? There are too many questions about this tragic case and they need to be answered."  mirror
  10. "Pakistan probes journalist death". BBC. 18 June 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/5092802.stm. Retrieved 2007-11-25. 
  11. "Slain tribal area journalist’s widow murdered". Reporters Without Borders. 17 November 2007. http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=24417. Retrieved 2007-11-26. 
  12. "...lest thou forget: Mystery cloud on Hayatullah’s death yet to part". Daily Times. 2008-12-15. http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2008\12\15\story_15-12-2008_pg7_36. Retrieved 2012-04-19. "Hayatullah’s family was hit by another tragedy when his widow was killed in a bomb explosion at their home on December 17 last year. The children escaped because they were sleeping in another room. She had said during a radio interview that her husband had warned that if “something” happened to him, some people, whose names he had given her, would know why. With her death, a key witness has disappeared."  mirror
  13. David Montero (2006-06-22). "Killing scares media away from Waziristan". Christian Science Monitor. http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0622/p07s02-wosc.html. Retrieved 2008-08-25. 

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