Committee to Protect Journalists has called on the Pakistan government to investigate recent attacks against journalists. In a statement, the CPJ said, “Pakistan authorities must immediately investigate the attacks against journalists Ayaz Amir and Ahmer Shaheen, ensure their safety, and hold the perpetrators accountable.
Unidentified men separately attacked Shaheen, chief editor of the news website iNEWS, on June 30 and beat Amir, a senior analyst with the privately owned broadcaster Dunya News, on July 1, according to news reports, both journalists, who spoke to CPJ in phone interviews, and a statement by the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors, which CPJ reviewed.
Both attacks occurred in the Punjab provincial capital of Lahore, and police have opened investigations into the incidents but have not announced any progress, Shaheen and Amir said.
“The attacks against journalists Ayaz Amir and Ahmer Shaheen underscore the significant dangers facing members of the press in Pakistan, which must be urgently addressed by the country’s new government,” said Carlos Martinez de la Serna, CPJ’s program director. “Pakistan authorities must spare no effort in investigating the attacks against Amir and Shaheen, ensuring the safety, and holding the perpetrators accountable.”
At about 11:45 p.m. on June 30, Shaheen was driving in the Sui Gas area of Lahore when two men on a motorbike approached his car and one pointed a gun at him and ordered him to stop, he said. He pulled over and one of the men ordered him to hand over his phone and laptop; he hid his phone under his seat, but the other man smashed his backseat window and stole his computer, he said.
Shaheen said he thought the men were attempting to mug him and offered his wallet, but they refused to take it.
One of the men then grabbed Shaheen and repeatedly banged his head against the car window, resulting in heavy bleeding, and fired several gunshots in the journalist’s direction, which hit his car, he said. One man then fled the scene on the motorbike and the other fled on foot, Shaheen told CPJ.
Shaheen repeatedly called the police to report the attack; police operators said officers were on their way, but the journalist waited for two hours and they never arrived, he told CPJ. While he was driving home, he found a police officer and gave a statement, but Shaheen told CPJ that the officer miswrote several details about the case and failed to write down others, including that Shaheen had been injured.
The officer initially forged the journalist’s signature on the statement, Shaheen said, adding that he then inserted a number of corrections to the statement and signed it.
Shaheen told CPJ that he did not immediately seek medical attention for his head injury because he feared the men may still be pursuing him.
The journalist told CPJ that, because the attackers took his laptop but not his wallet, he thought the attack was likely retaliation for his journalism. He said he did not know what reporting may have sparked the attack.”