ANOTHER day, another citizen roughed up for speaking his mind. The assault on veteran journalist Ayaz Amir by unidentified men in Lahore late Friday night is just the latest reminder that speaking the bitter truth never goes unpunished by those who have been allowed to run amok in this land of the pure. What was Mr Amir’s ‘crime’ that he was subjected to such brutish treatment? That he had not pulled any punches when he went after the military, real estate tycoons and former prime minister Imran Khan while addressing the latter during a symposium he had addressed a day earlier? Mr Amir had been quite unreserved while holding the establishment responsible for the political crisis faced by the country, but he had also criticised the PTI government for acting as a facilitator while it seized greater control of the levers of power. He had also slammed Mr Khan for pandering to real estate tycoons and giving them too much space to tear and destroy while lining their own pockets. The public had found his speech refreshing for its audacity. Even PTI supporters were supportive of the journalist’s decision to speak the ugly truth in public. Yet somebody, clearly, was not amused.
The question of who is behind the assault on Mr Amir may be as yet officially unanswered, and, as in other such cases, it is likely to remain so. Nevertheless, some are quite convinced that the usual suspects were involved. Whatever the case may be, the sheer brazenness of the attack should give us some pause. It seems that the message is that one should expect prompt ‘disciplining’ if they cross the line. Never mind the age of the victim, their health, or their standing in society: hired guns will be set upon you to inflict physical and psychological pain if you step too hard on a powerful ego. Tragically, this is Pakistan on the eve of the 75th anniversary of its independence.
Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2022