Assault on another journalist sends wave of fear among journalists in Pakistan: government orders probe

By Our Staff reporter

Islamabad: Unidentified people attacked a journalist working for a local news channel in Pakistan. A wave of fear and anger has been felt among the journalist community following the latest attack.

In a video message released from hospital Yesterday on May 26, the journalist Mr. Asad Ali Toor claimed three people broke into his apartment, gagged him, tied his hands and feet, and beat him with a pistol.

Asad Toor

“They fled away as I started screaming,” said Toor, who works for a popular show at Pakistani broadcaster Aaj television and runs his own YouTube channel as well. Authorities as well as the victim couldn’t ascertain who was behind the attack. However independent experts and veteran journalists believe there may be a group which is trying to build a gulf between the government, journalists and country’s Intelligence agencies by attacking journalists in Pakistan.

A few hours after the attack, Federal Information Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain ordered an inquiry into the incident, the latest in the series of assaults against journalists critical of the military since the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan took over in 2018 elections tainted by the army’s interference.

Fawad Chaudhary, federal Minister of Information and Broadcasting

It was second time in last couple of months that a journalist was attacked in Pakistan. Last month in April in Islamabad, a gunman shot and wounded Absar Alam, another prominent local journalist.

Absar Alam

The latest attack was widely condemned by journalists and rights activists in Pakistan who demanded the perpetrators be punished.

The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) called the assault “yet another attack on freedom of expression and a free press.” London-based Amnesty International urged Pakistani authorities to “take urgent steps to provide journalists with greater protection, following years of spiralling threats, intimidation and attacks against media workers in Pakistan.”

Although Pakistan’s government insists it supports freedom of speech, journalists, and press freedom advocates accuse Pakistan’s military and other security agencies of harassing and attacking journalists.

Pakistan ranks 145 out of 180 countries on media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) 2021 World Press Freedom Index.

“The Pakistani media, which have a long tradition of being very lively, have become a priority target for the country’s ‘deep state’, a euphemism for the military and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the main military intelligence agency, and the significant degree of control they exercise over the civilian executive,” says RSF of press freedom in Pakistan

According to CPJ, 61 journalists have been murdered in Pakistan between 1992 and 2021.

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