Absar Alam PEMRA chairman
Absar Alam, then Chairman of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), attends a planning meeting with senior staff in Islamabad, Pakistan, June 1, 2016. Image Credit: Reuters

Islamabad: Veteran journalist and former Chairman of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) Absar Alam was shot by an unidentified assailant in a park close to his house in Islamabad.

He was rushed to a hospital where his condition is stated to be out of danger.

While he was being taken to the hospital, Absar in a video message, which is making the rounds on social media, said: “I’ve been hit in my ribs but my message for those who are behind this is that I am not going to give up.”

Police have registered a First Information Report (FIR) and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) has constituted a committee to investigate the case.

According to details, Absar was walking in the park when he was shot by an unidentified man.

“The man was also walking in the same park but each time I crossed him, he tried to cover his face,” said Absar while talking to Gulf News on Wednesday.

On our third encounter, he took out a weapon and shot at me and escaped the scene, he said. The bullet pierced his belly narrowly missing the liver. He was rushed to the hospital by other passers-by.

Absar Alam said he always walked with a stick and it was perhaps the stick that kept the man from coming closer.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid has taken notice of the attack and ordered an investigation into it. The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) have also condemned the incident and demanded that the attackers be arrested immediately.

Committee constituted to probe case

In a tweet, Islamabad Police said the capital police chief had constituted a special team under the command of SSP investigation to probe the case from all aspects.

“The team has been directed to use all scientific and forensic methods to trace the accused involved in the incident,” it added.

Politicians, journalists and human rights activists have condemned the incident.

A brave fighter

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a tweet said the assassination attempt on Absar Alam, a leading voice for civil supremacy, raises a lot of questions.

“It is an attempt to silence a brave fighter by those who want to silence the voices of freedom and democracy.”

Absar Alam is a vocal critic of the role of the military in Pakistan’s politics and his tweets often reflect his anti-establishment views.

Nawaz Sharif’s daughter and Vice-President of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Maryam Nawaz has also termed the attack on Absar Alam an attempt at “silencing his voice of dissent.”

“Silencing the voice of dissent is a cancer that has plagued this country for many years,” she said in her tweet.

10 journalists killed in Pakistan in 2020

At least 10 journalists were killed and several others threatened, kidnapped, tortured and arrested in Pakistan in 2020, according to the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors’ (CPNE) Media Freedom Report.

“It is a matter of grave concern that the legal system of the country has become useless in protecting and providing justice to journalists,” the report said.