Zafar Aaheer says a group of about seven people punched him while shouting that he and the Jang Group are agents of India.
A journalist working with the Jang media group has been badly beaten, police said Monday, the latest attack on media workers in the country.
Zafar Aaheer, resident editor of the top-selling Urdu-language newspaper Jang, was attacked when he left his office in Multan early Sunday. Jang is part of the group that owns Geo TV and is currently at odds with the military.
In April unidentified attackers in Karachi shot and injured senior anchor Hamid Mir, who hosts a talk show on Geo TV. The TV station became embroiled in a row with the military after it aired allegations that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was behind Mir’s shooting. In response, the defense ministry has urged the national media regulator to cancel Geo TV’s broadcasting license.
The channel is also facing the wrath of the religious community for airing programs that clerics say are blasphemous and defame Islam.
“We have registered a case of kidnapping, mobile snatching, beating and damaging the car of Zafar Aaheer against unknown people,” said Amjad Javed Salimi, a senior police official in Multan. “We are investigating this case. Apparently he was attacked by the people who were angry at his media group because of their programs that hurt their religious faith,” said Salimi.
Aaheer said he could not identify his attackers, who numbered about seven and were traveling in a car and on a motorcycle. “They broke the windows of my car and punched me inside the car,” he said. “They shouted at me that I and my group are agents of India.”
Amnesty International claimed last week that Pakistani journalists face threats from a host of sources, including the ISI, the Pakistani Taliban, Al Qaeda-linked groups, ethnic Baloch rebels, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militants and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, a political party dominant in Karachi.
Since the restoration of democracy in Pakistan in 2008, at least 34 journalists have been killed because of their work, Amnesty said. But the culprits have been brought to justice in only one of those cases.