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Who was Hayatullah Khan and why should we all know him?


A picture of journalist Hayatullah Khan (right) with Hamid Mir in Bannu in 1998. Photo: Courtesy Hamid Mir/ Twitter

He was the first journalist to report on US drone strikes in Pakistan.

Pakistani journalists who try to further explore any prevailing issue are targeted and killed. The case of Hayatullah Khan is the best example of that.

Dawn News’ Mubashir Zaidi reminded people about this journalist who lost his life because of reporting over drone strikes in Pakistan. He was speaking at a session, ‘State Narratives on Conflict and the Media’, during the First International Conference on Media and Conflict on Tuesday.

“He [Khan] was reporting on drone strikes at a time when [former president] Pervez Musharraf was still in denial,” said Zaidi. “It shows that there are degrees of pressure and work that you can do as an independent journalist in Pakistan.”

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“People who don’t know about Hayatullah Khan, I will tell you about it,” chimed in journalist Hamid Mir. Khan was a reporter from Waziristan and took a picture of a ‘made in US’ drone and wrote a story about it. Khan was the first person to report this. “It is because of him that the world found out that drone strikes were happening in Pakistan.”

At that time, Major General (retd) Shaukat Sultan Khan was serving as the spokesperson of the military. “I remember that the former ISPR DG negated the drone strike news. Instead, he said that terrorists were making a bomb which had exploded.” As the drone strikes became more evident, the state went silent, he said.

Khan had to pay the heavy price of reporting the truth and he was brutally killed. Not only him, but his wife was killed and so was his brother, Mir added.

“Now, tell me, is this for our public interest or national interest?” he asked.

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