Freelance reporter Asad Hashim wins the 2018 AFP (Agence France-Presse) Kate Webb Prize for his coverage of the plight of ethnic Pashtuns and blasphemy issues in his native Pakistan

Melbourne, January 14: The prize, with a 3,000 euro purse, honours journalists working in perilous or difficult conditions in Asia, and is named after a crusading AFP reporter who died in 2007 at the age of 64, after a career covering the world’s troublespots – including Afghanistan.

Asad Hashim, 33, was recognised for a series of articles on ethnic Pashtuns and other groups caught up in the Pakistan military’s fight against the Pakistan Taliban.

These included an investigative report into enforced disappearances allegedly conducted by the military and a reporting mission to the South Waziristan tribal region – birthplace of Pakistan’s Taliban – to look into the deadly civilian toll from landmine explosions.

The award also recognised his work on other highly sensitive issues, such as Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and the country’s judicial system.
Working as an online correspondent with Al Jazeera English based in Islamabad, Asad Hashim has covered stories in South Asia and the Middle East.

He has grown increasingly anxious about politics in Pakistan and primarily reports on extremism, security, politics and human rights issues in Pakistan.

“These are challenging times for journalists in Pakistan and Asad Hashim’s work stands out for the kind of courageous, independent reporting the Kate Webb Prize was created to recognise,” said AFP’s Asia-Pacific regional director, Philippe Massonnet.

“His deeply-researched articles tackle sensitive subjects with an admirable balance of passion, commitment and journalistic detachment,” Massonnet said.

Asad Hashim was elated after learning he was the winner of the 2018 prize.

“I am honoured by the jury’s decision to select my work this year,” Asad Hashim said.

“I consider the award not just a recognition of my work, but of all Pakistani journalists, who have been working in an increasingly restrictive reporting environment over the last year,” he added.

The prize will be formally presented at a ceremony in March.

Asad Hashim secured a degree in Electrical Engineering from the US, after which he moved back to Pakistan to become a journalist.

He has worked as the Features Editor at The Friday Times, a copy editor/reporter at Geo News and a reporter/editor with Dawn. In 2010, he also completed his MA in the Anthropology of Media at the School of Oriental and African Studies, in London.

Nidhi Mehta

feature image: @AFP

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