Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday condemned the previous night’s attack on senior journalist Ayaz Amir in Lahore and directed authorities in Punjab to ensure the perpetrators are caught and brought to justice.
“I strongly condemn the attack on senior journalist/analyst Ayaz Amir,” he wrote in a statement on Twitter. “Such attacks on media persons are totally unacceptable in a democratic society. On my directions, Punjab chief minister has ordered a high-level inquiry into the sad incident to bring perpetrators to justice,” he added.
Amir was assaulted by “unidentified men” in Lahore on Friday night, according to a statement issued by Dunya News. The visibly distraught journalist said that when he had been leaving the studio after recording his television show for Dunya News, his car was intercepted by a vehicle. “A man wearing a face mask emerged from the vehicle and collared my driver,” he said. “As I questioned the man, a couple of other men also arrived by my side, opened the door of my car and unleashed blows to my face, and dragged me out of the vehicle,” he said, adding that as crowds started to gather, the assailants stole his mobile phone and wallet.
While there is no confirmation of the reasons behind the assault, it comes just a day after Amir spoke at a seminar organized by the Islamabad High Court Bar Association on ‘Regime Change and its Fallout on Pakistan.’ The speech, which has been widely shared on broadcast and social media, criticized the role of the military in the governance of Pakistan, while also pointing out issues with Imran Khan’s tenure as prime minister.
The PTI has sought to link the attack with the government—without offering any evidence of his allegations. “Pakistan is descending into the worst kind of fascism with violence and fake FIRs against journalists, opposition politicians and citizens. When the state loses all moral authority it resorts to violence,” he said in a posting on Twitter.
Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz, in a statement, took notice of the assault and sought a report from the inspector general of the Punjab police. He vowed that the attackers would be arrested and dealt with soon. “The incident is highly condemnable. The dispensation of justice in the case will be ensured,” he emphasized.