Senior journalist Absar Alam shot, injured in Islamabad

Published April 20, 2021
Absar Alam – Twitter screengrab
Absar Alam – Twitter screengrab

Senior journalist and former chairman of Pakistan Electronic Media Authority (Pemra), Absar Alam, was shot in Islamabad on Tuesday, he said in a video message uploaded on Twitter.

In a video shared by journalist Asad Toor, Alam can be heard saying he was shot at while walking outside his home.

"I've been hit in my ribs," he said, adding that he had not lost hope.

"My message to those who did this is that I am not going to be scared by such tactics," Alam said in the video.

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry condemned the incident in a message on Twitter, adding that the police had been asked to investigate the attack.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid took notice of the attack, saying he had ordered the Islamabad IG to investigate. He directed that those involved in the firing should be arrested as soon as possible.

“Those who fired at Absar Alam will not be able to escape from the law. [They] will very soon be within the ambit of the law,” Rashid tweeted.

In a tweet, Islamabad Police said the capital police chief had constituted a special team under the command of SSP investigation to investigate the attack on Alam "from all aspects".

"The team has been directed to use all scientific and forensic methods to trace the accused involved in the incident," it added.

Soon after news of the attack was shared on social media, condemnations poured in from journalists and politicians.

PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz lamented that “silencing the voice of dissent is a cancer that has plagued this country for many years,” adding that Absar Alam was the latest victim of this crime.

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) “strongly condemned” the incident and demanded that the attackers be arrested immediately.

“It seems that deep state is at large against journalist community who are victims of rising crime and terrorism in the country,” it said in a statement.

“Such incidents cannot deter the journalist community from raising the voices against lawlessness and [for] freedom of press in the country,” it added.

The PFUJ also demanded that a judicial commission be set up to investigate the attack against Alam and crimes committed against other journalists. It called on parliamentarians and politicians to raise their voices for the protection of journalists.

Anchorperson Kashif Abbasi also condemned the attack in a tweet.

Former ambassador to the UN Maleeha Lodhi termed the attack “terrible news” and prayed for the journalist.

At least 10 journalists were murdered and several others threatened, kidnapped, tortured and arrested in Pakistan on trumped-up charges while discharging their professional responsibilities in 2020 alone, according to the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors’ (CPNE) Media Freedom Report 2020.

No action has so far been taken against those responsible for torturing and killing journalists and it seems that such persons enjoy impunity. “It is a matter of grave concern that the legal system of the country has become useless in protecting and providing justice to journalists,” said the report.

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