Case Profile: Wali Khan Babar
Name: Wali Khan Murder Case
Media employer: Geo News television network
Nature of violence: Murder
Date of incident: January 13, 2011
Mode of Expression
Type of Law
Date of decision
March 01, 2014
Violence against journalists/Impunity
Death Sentence/Life Imprisonment
Case Summary and Outcome
Wali Khan Babar, reporter of Geo News television network,was murdered on January 13, 2011 in Karachi, Pakistan . Seven accused were tried for murder under section 302 (Punishment of qatl-i-amd) of Pakistan Penal Code , section 34 PPC (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) and section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 (Punishment for acts of terrorism) .
On March 01 2014, the Anti-Terrorism court convicted six of the accused of murder, with four of them sentenced for life and two sentenced to death. One of the accused was acquitted by the court.
This decision marks the only instance where the killers of a Pakistani journalist were convicted.
On 13 January, 2011 Wali Khan Babar, reporter of Geo News television channel was killed while he was on his way home.
Police arrested five suspects in Karachi on April 7, 2011. Faisal Mehmood alias Nafsyati, Tahir Naveed alias Polka, Shahrukh alias Mani, Muhammad Ali Rizvi and Shakil Malik .
Seven suspects were tried under the Anti Terrorism Act provisions and arraigned on February 27 2012, including two absconding suspects, Fasial Mehmood alias Mota and Kamran alias Zeeshan.
Names Date of arrest Sentence
1) Faisal Mehmood alias Nafsyati April 07 2011 Life imprisonment
2) TahirNaveed alias Polka April 07 2011 Life imprisonment
3) Shahrukh alias Mani April 07 2011 Life imprisonment
4) Muhammad Ali Rizvi April 07 2011 Life imprisonment
5) Shakil Malik April 07 2011 Acquittal
6) Faisal Mehmood alias Mota March 11 2011 Death sentence
7) Kamran alias Zeeshan March 11 2015 Death sentence
The court announced the verdict on March 1, 2014, convicting six of the seven people accused and acquitting Shakil Malik for lack of evidence. Four of the convicts were sentenced to life while two absconders Mehmood alias Mota and Kamran were sentenced to death in absentia.
The two absconding convicts were workers of a political party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). They were later arrested during a raid on MQM headquarters Nine Zero on March 11 2015. The party has, however, denied this and claimed that their arrest was made from the nearby vicinity and not from the MQM headquarters Nine Zero.
All six convicts have filed an appeal to the Sindh High Court, challenging the verdict.
It took 3 years for the specialized Anti-terrorism court to announce the verdict due to security concerns.Five witnesses in the case: Rajab Bangali, Naveed Ahmed Tanoli, Arshad Kundi, Muhammad Asif and Haider Ali had been murdered. The prosecutor of the case, Naimat Ali Randhawa had also been killed. The provincial government thus filed an application in the Sindh High Court requesting the court to transfer the case to Shikarpur, owing to the security risk to people involved in the case. This was request was granted and the case proceeded in Shikarpur.
Judge Laghari delivered the opinion of the Court. He issued the convictions after examining all the evidence.
There were two important pieces of evidence which helped the prosecution to successfully plead its the case — the confessional statement of one accused Shahrukh alias Mani before the judicial magistrate Karachi and the other was the identification of convicts before the court by an eyewitness, Haider Ali who was later killed in November, 2012.
However, this decision was by a court of first instance and may be reversed by the High Court. All the convicts have appealed to the High Court.
Wali Khan Babar is the only Pakistani journalist whose perpetrators have been held to account and convicted. This decision suggested a break from the past where journalists were killed with impunity.
This case set a precedent in signaling that violence against journalists aimed at curtailing freedom of expression would be dealt with according to the law and the perpetrators would be punished.
According to the police, the murder was plotted by Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Pakistan’s fourth largest political party known for its use of strong-arm tactics. Babar is believed to be specifically targeted due to his reporting on MQM’s role in land grabbing, violent turf wars, extortion and targeted killings.
National Standards, Law or Jurisprudence
Pakistan Penal Code, section 302 (Punishment of qatl-i-amd) and section 34(Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention)
Anti Terrorism Act 1997, Section 7( Punishment for acts of terrorism)
Pak, Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Art 19 (Freedom of Speech)
This case did not set a binding or persuasive precedent either within or outside its jurisdiction. The significance of this case is undetermined at this point in time.
Reports, Analysis and News Articles
• Television channel reporter gunned down in Karachi http://www.pakistanpressfoundation.org/2012/11/television-channel-reporter-gunned-down-in-karachi-2/
• First-ever convictions in a case of a murdered Pakistani journalist http://www.pakistanpressfoundation.org/2014/03/first-ever-convictions-in-a-case-of-a-murdered-pakistani-journalist/
• Convicts appeal against life sentences in SHC http://www.pakistanpressfoundation.org/2014/03/convicts-appeal-against-life-sentences-in-shc/
• Wali Babar case transferred to Kashmore-Kandhkot ATC http://www.pakistanpressfoundation.org/2013/11/wali-babar-case-transferred-to-kashmore-kandhkot-atc/
• Suspect sentenced to death in Wali Khan Babar case also in custody: Rangers spokesmanhttps://www.geo.tv/latest/1524-suspect-sentenced-to-death-in-wali-khan-babar-case-also-in-custody-rangers-spokesman