Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) has called on the authorities to conduct speedy investigations into the cases of attacks on journalists — Asad Toor and Absar Alam — and to ensure justice is provided.
On April 20, former Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) chairman Absar Alam was shot in the country’s capital Islamabad. In a video, Alam said he had been struck on his ribs. A criminal complaint was registered with the Shalimar Police following the incident.
Just a month later on May 25, journalist and blogger Asad Ali Toor was attacked by three unidentified individuals at his apartment in Islamabad. Following the incident, Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari had condemned the attack. She said that the perpetrators were on CCTV cameras and Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaduhry had been in touch with police to take “necessary action”.
On May 30, Toor was summoned by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to record a statement in an inquiry about “defamation of a government institution through social media.”
In solidarity with Toor, following the armed attack on him, popular anchor and journalist Hamid Mir had given a speech in front of the National Press Club on Friday (May 28) where he condemned “non-democratic forces for attacks on media persons and Asad Toor”. Following the speech, Mir was taken off air by Geo News. The media organization had said Mir’s speech had “resulted in a backlash from different segments of society”.
They said the Editorial Committee and lawyers would check for “violation of policy and law” during which Mir’s show would be hosted by a temporary host.
The journalist, while confirming the ban, said the move was “nothing new” for him.
“I was banned twice in the past. Lost jobs twice.Survived assassination attempts but cannot stop raising voice for the rights given in the constitution. This time I’m ready for any consequences and ready to go at any extent because they are threatening my family,” he added in a tweet.
On June 17, a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights was informed by journalists including Mir, Alam, Toor, Asma Shirazi, Maneza Jahangir as well as others that “their attackers were still at large despite clear and sufficient evidence available with police,” Dawn reported.
PPF urges the authorities to ensure justice is provided and these cases of attacks on the media are investigated without delay. Such delays create a further environment of fear which the media is forced to work within as they indicate a lack of accountability when a media personnel is attacked. Ensuring that impunity is not given to perpetrators of such attacks is essential and we urge the authorities to ensure that these cases are investigated.