ISLAMABAD: A gunman shot at and injured senior journalist and former chairman of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority Absar Alam here on Tuesday.

Police said that the incident took place before Iftar at F-11/2 Park, opposite OPF University F-11 Campus, where Mr Alam had come for a walk.

A man jumped over the fence of the park, fired at Mr Alam and escaped, they said. As a result, the journalist suffered a bullet injury.

Mr Alam was taken to a private hospital at F-10, where he was operated upon, police said, adding that his condition was now stable.

Call for judicial probe as incident is widely condemned

In a video message, recorded when he was being taken to hospital, Mr Alam said someone shot at him when he was walking in the park. “I have been hit in the ribs,” he added.

He said that he had not lost hope and “my message to those who did this is that I am not going to be scared by such acts”.

After getting the information about the incident police reached the spot and started investigation. A police officer told Dawn that teams had been constituted under the supervision of the SSP investigation to probe the incident.

It was too early to establish the reason behind the attack, but circumstances suggested that the gunman came there [in the park] to target Mr Alam, the official said.

According to preliminary investigation, Mr Alam spotted the assailant when he jumped over the fence and moved towards him, the officer said. Mr Alam became suspicious of the man who suddenly pulled out a weapon and fired at him.

The areas — the spot from where the gunman jumped into the park and the shooting spot — were being examined, the official said.

A number of politicians and journalists’ bodies condemned the attack and asked the government to arrest the culprits.

In a tweet, federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said police had been asked to investigate the attack.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said he had ordered the Islamabad IG to probe the attack. Those involved in it should be arrested as soon as possible.

Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said the attacker should be arrested and the incident investigated. He prayed for Mr Alam’s speedy recovery.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz vice president Maryam Nawaz said: “Silencing the voice of dissent is a cancer that has plagued the country for many years and Mr Alam is 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,” PFUJ president Shehzada Zulfiqar and secretary general Nasir Zaidi said in a joint statement.

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

The PFUJ demanded that a judicial commission be set up to investigate the attack on Mr Alam and crimes committed against other journalists.

The Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors also condemned the attack and demanded arrest of the culprit behind the cowardly act.

The association said it stood by all those journalists and writers who spoke and fought for freedom of speech in Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2021

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