A senior Pakistani journalist and political analyst was assaulted by unidentified masked men, who also tore his clothes, as he was leaving his office here in Punjab province, a day after he called powerful Pakistani army generals “real estate dealers”.
Ayaz Amir, 73, was returning home late Friday after recording his television program for Dunya News TV channel, where he works as a senior analyst, when his car was stopped by unknown persons. Then the attackers dealt with him rough and tortured his driver before he fled the scene.
Amir said, with bruises on his face, that the masked men “not only beat him and tore his clothes, but took his mobile phone and wallet with him. They left when people started gathering on the busy road.” Pictures circulated on Twitter showed the journalist sitting in a car with his shirt torn. In a subsequent tweet, Amir said those who attacked him don’t care about his age.
“I have no personal enmity with anyone and I have no quarrel with anyone. Whoever attacked me did not even care about my age.”
And he said in another tweet: “The only mistake is that I am telling the truth and I will continue to speak, God willing.”
On Thursday, during a speech at a symposium in Islamabad on “Regime Change and Its Implications for Pakistan,” the emir targeted the powerful military for its role in Pakistani politics. The seminar was also attended by former Prime Minister Imran Khan. He referred to the army generals as “property dealers” and suggested that pictures of Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the country’s national poet Allama Iqbal be removed and replaced with “property dealers”.
In an indirect reference to Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Amir said he was in his sixth year in office and was looking for another extension. Portions of Amir’s speech spread on social media.
The powerful Pakistan Army, which has ruled the coup-prone country for more than half of its 73-plus years of existence, wields significant power in matters of security and foreign policy.
In his speech, Amir also referred to the mistakes made by Khan, who was ousted from power in April through a vote of no-confidence, during his tenure as the country’s prime minister, especially following the lines of the military establishment. Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif condemned the attack on Amir and ordered Punjab Chief Minister Hamzah Shahbaz to conduct a high-level investigation.
Suspects must be brought before the law as soon as possible. Geo News reported that the press must be guaranteed and journalists protected.
Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shahbaz sought a report from the Inspector General of Police regarding the assault on the senior journalist and ordered the arrest of the perpetrators as soon as possible.
In response to the incident, ousted Prime Minister Khan tweeted, “I condemn in the strongest terms the violence against today’s great journalist Ayaz Amir in Lahore. Pakistan descends into the worst kind of fascism with violence and fake FIR reports against journalists, opposition politicians and citizens. When the state loses all moral authority, resort to violence.” Journalists, lawyers and human rights activists condemned the attack.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan has to take into account this terrorism against one of the most respected and uncontroversial media personalities. Ayaz Amir is almost 73 years old! One of the most respected English columnists Pakistan has ever created! Senior journalist Moid Pirzada tweeted.