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Journalist Assaulted at Home in Islamabad

by Newsweek Pakistan

Journalist Asad Ali Toor. YouTube

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry has taken notice of incident and ordered police to locate and apprehend suspects

Journalist Asad Ali Toor was assaulted by three masked men late on Tuesday night at his home in Islamabad, prompting outcry on social media and calls for the government to ensure his attackers were located and punished.

In a video statement recorded from hospital, Toor said that the men had forced their way into his home, tied him up and started torturing him. “They kept hitting my elbows with the butt of their pistols,” he said, with the elbows of his shirt covered in blood, showing the extent of his injuries. “When I started screaming [for help], they tried to cover up my mouth and kept shouting at me to ‘be quiet’,” he said. “As I kept screaming, they turned away and said that we’re leaving now, be quiet or we will shoot you dead,” he said in his narration of the incident, adding that they had asked him to identify the source of his funding.

Toor’s condition is now stable and police have recorded his statement, as well as recovering CCTV footage of the assailants fleeing from his apartment. Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry took notice of the incident and instructed Islamabad police to investigate the attack and submit a report.

Earlier this month, Toor had alleged that he was being harassed by serving officers, adding that he had been warned that “action” would be taken against him after Eidul Fitr. He also claimed that a lawmaker had told him that “agencies” were after his head.

Condemnations

Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb described the attack on Toor as “reprehensible,” and urged the government to ensure security for journalists instead of merely giving lip service to their protection.

PMLN Vice President Maryam Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples Party Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also condemned the attack, while Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari condemned the attack and affirmed that the information minister had contacted police to take necessary action to apprehend the culprits.

Toor was targeted less than a week after the government introduced the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Bill, 2021 in the National Assembly. The legislation is aimed at ensuring the safety and independence of media professionals, a necessary requirement as the country continues to be regarded as among the most dangerous for journalists globally.

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