May 12, 2012
Imran Naeem Ahmad
ISLAMABAD: Waheedur Rehman Khalil, a senior reporter with AVT Khyber News was lucky to escape with only a minor fracture this week when a bomb went off at the tomb of a former politician in Nowshera.
Khalil, 33, says he was tossed into the air by the intensity of the blast and landed onto a nearby grave. “It was completely dark and for a good while I was at a loss as to what had happened.”
Reporting from the troubled Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is full of risks. “I leave home every day not sure if I will return alive; it’s the same for all of my colleagues.”
According to a provincial report on the State of Journalism in Pakistan launched at the start of the month by Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, 23 journalists have been killed between 2000-2011 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
The Khyber News crew had rushed to the tomb of former Awami National Party chief Ajmal Khattak from Peshawar on learning there had been a bomb blast.
Shortly after arriving at the scene at 9:45pm, just as Khalil began interviewing eyewitnesses, a second bomb rocked the mausoleum. “Bricks from the under-construction tomb went flying, people were screaming and there was absolute chaos.”
More than 10 people were injured in the blasts, which included four other crew members of Khyber News and a few reporters representing different television networks.
It took police 45 minutes to arrive and to make matters worse there were no ambulances to ferry the injured to hospital. “We had to use our own DSNG to get to the hospital in Nowshera.”
But bombs and bomb blasts do not scare Khalil. He has had two similar narrow escapes before – the first when a car laden with explosives went off in Peshawar cantonment about a year and a half ago and the second when a suicide bomber attacked the Peshawar Press Club in 2009.
For journalists in Peshawar covering bombings is all part of day’s work. Since Wednesday (May 9), there have been two more bomb attacks, both targeting police. Khalil was there to cover both!
With this being the spirit, a salute is surely in order for the brave journalists reporting out of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
(Imran Naeem Ahmad is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of JournalismPakistan.com)
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