ISLAMABAD: Pakistan continues to remain as one of the most unsafe countries for journalists, as targeted attacks, abductions, killings and assassination attempts on senior scribes continue unabated. In a latest tragic incident in capital Islamabad, senior journalist and former chairman of Pakistan Electronic Media Authority (PEMRA), Absar Alam, was shot at in broad daylight by unknown attackers. In a video message shared on social media, Absar Alam could be seen stating that he was shot at outside his house.
"I have been shot in my ribs," said Absar Alam while being taken to the hospital after being shot at. "My message to those who did this is that I am not going to be scared by such tactics," he added.
Alam was rushed to the hospital immediately where his condition has stabilised. The incident prompted immediate response rom the Islamabad Police, which stated that the capital police chief has constituted a special team under the command of the SSP (investigation) to probe the attack.
Federal Minister for Interior, Sheikh Rasheed, also took notice of the attack and ordered the Islamabad IG to investigate the matter with immediate affect. "Those involved in the firing should be arrested as soon as possible," he said.
"Those who fired at Absar Alam will not be able to escape the law. Very soon they will be within the ambit of the law," he added. The deadly attack on Alam attracted condemnation from journalists and politicians alike.
"Silencing the voice of dissent is a cancer that has plagued this country for many years. Absar Alam Sahab is the latest victim of this cruel & barbaric crime. May Allah SWT heal his wounds and the wounds of this country. Ameen," tweeted Maryam Nawaz, the Vice President of opposition party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) also lashed out at the government, stating that it seems like the deep state is at large against the journalist community.
"It seems that the deep state is at large against the journalist community who are victims of rising crime and terrorism in the country," PFUJ 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 has demanded that a judicial commission be set up to investigate the attack on Alam and crimes committed against other journalists, calling on parliamentarians and politicians to raise their voices for the protection of journalists.
Mediapersons in Pakistan continue to become targets of threats, abductions, torture, arrests and murders. In 2020, at least 10 journalists were murdered while several others were threatened, kidnapped, tortured and arrested, while performing their professional duties.
As per 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," the report stated. (IANS)