The News reporter Ahmed Noorani was intercepted and attacked by unidentified assailants in Islamabad’s Zero Point area on Friday morning, police said. According to reports, the attackers assaulted Noorani and his driver with knives near the Urdu University. Both were taken to the Poly Clinic for treatment, police said. They are said to be in a stable condition despite sustaining wounds to the head. A few hours after the incident, Noorani’s driver, Mumtaz, filed a first information report at the Aabpara Police Station. According to the FIR, Mumtaz and Noorani were intercepted by six assailants on motorcycles, two of which did not have number plates. The driver said in the FIR that two of the assailants had grabbed him and attacked him with knives, while four assailants pulled Noorani out of the car. The assailants then attacked Noorani in the same manner.
Politicians and colleagues took to Twitter to condemn the attack on the journalist. Noorani’s colleague Syed Talat Hussain described the attack as shameful. Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Asad Umar condemned the attack, calling for the culprits to be identified and punished. Noorani has been covering the Sharif family’s legal troubles extensively since the Panama Papers verdict. He had also covered the Supreme Court’s proceedings on the Panama Papers case. Pakistan ranks 139 out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index 2017 compiled by Reporters Without Borders, placing it among the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists. In the last 15 years, at least 117 journalists have been killed, while only three cases were taken up in judicial courts. In September, anchorperson Matiullah Jan was travelling to Bhara Kahu from Islamabad along with his family when two motorbike riders threw a piece of brick on his car and broke its windscreen. However, the journalist and his family members remained unhurt.
Two different attacks targeting newspaper agencies were reported in Balochistan on Thursday ? one a hand grenade attack on a newspaper agency office in Turbat which injured eight people, and the other an incident of firing at a vehicle carrying newspapers in Awaran.
The attacks come as separatist militant groups have launched a campaign against media houses for not publishing their statements in newspapers.
It is unfortunate that the situation regarding press freedom in Pakistan is worsening and against democratic standards. The deadliest attack on senior journalist Ahmed Noorani is another sad episode. Such incidents not only give bad name to the country at international level but also shake the image of the country. The democracy cannot progress without freedom of expression. The attacks on journalists are not properly investigated which leads to a climate of impunity for culprits.

The federal government needs to deliver on this front and do more to protect the press. Media organizations and journalists’ rights bodies needs to evolve comprehensive strategy to ensure protection of working journalists.


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