The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom, today condemned the brutal attack on Pakistani journalist Asad Ali Toor, and urged the Pakistani government to take immediate action against the perpetrators.
According to media reports, unidentified men entered the apartment building where Toor lives and assaulted him on May 25 in the capital Islamabad. He was admitted to a private hospital where is condition is said to be stable.
“We condemn this despicable attack on Asad Ali Toor, and call for an immediate and effective investigation by Pakistani law enforcement. Authorities must ensure that those responsible are held to account”, IPI Deputy Director Scott Griffen said. “This is the latest in a series of violent acts against the press in Pakistan, which are fuelled by continued impunity for the perpetrators. Pakistan must fulfil its obligations to protect the safety of journalists working in the country.”
Last year, Toor was charged by the police in the Punjab province with defamation and public mischief. Another case was filed against him under various section of the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act 2016. The police had accused him of using social media to conduct defame Pakistan and its institutions. However, the High Court of Lahore rejected the cases filed against Toor.
According to IPI’s data, attacks and intimidation of journalists in Pakistan have spiralled since the beginning of the year. On March 18, a reporter for Royal New TV and a member of Pakistan’s Hindu minority, Ajay Laalwani, was shot dead by a group of armed men. The police said that they had identified the killers, but no arrests have been made so far.
Earlier, in February, the head office of Jang-Geo Media Group in Karachi was ransacked and vandalized by a marauding crowd, who also attacked staffers present in the office. Later, police arrested 13 people in connection with the attack.
Last month police raided the Press Club in Wana district in Pakistan on April 11 and arrested journalist Ala Khan Wazir. The members of the Press Club held a demonstration demanding that their colleague be released, and action be taken against those police officers who raided the press club.