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Journo Ayaz Amir assaulted for being critical of Pak Army?

Islamabad, July 3, 2022- The Pakistani government’s “intrusive” attitude towards the media was evident during the Imran Khan government when those critical of him and his government were targeted. With the rift between the Army and Imran Khan increasing, one now finds those critical of the Army being targeted.

The Army has been sending out a clear message to all those who matter that they would not afford any criticism in any form, and from any quarter.

However, the political dynamics in the country is so intricate that the possibility of vested interests pushing journalists to criticise the Army and then being attacked by their own cronies to show the attack as being carried out by the Army cannot be ruled out.

On July 1, some unidentified persons attacked senior journalist and analyst Ayaz Amir of Dunya News programme “Think Tank”. Pak Premier Shehbaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz have taken notice of the attack and sought a report.

The attack on Amir intriguingly was carried out only a day after his speech at a seminar on regime change organised by lawyers of Islamabad High Court Bar Association who have been supporting the PTI of Imran Khan.

In his speech, Amir had indirectly accused the General Headquarters (GHQ) of toppling Imran government and not the US. He also criticised Imran for giving extension to the present Army Chief and stressed that now onwards all successive army chiefs would aspire for a tenure of six years and more as long as they don’t attain 64 years of age.

Amir also lashed out at Imran Khan for relying on a single person (Faiz Hameed) for carrying out all tasks whether related to Balochistan, security issues or political matters. He came down hard on the former Prime Minister for handing over large swathes of land to the property mafia and Defence Housing Association. In all possibility, thrashing of Amir can be attributed to the military establishment.

However, in the prevailing situation, the possibility of the PTI itself or the anti-Bajwa lobby being involved in the attack to further tarnish the image of Gen Bajwa and DG ISI Naveed Anjum cannot be ruled out.

The “cowardly” attack has evoked strong reaction from the PTI Chairman and former Prime Minister Imran Khan, President Arif Alvi and other PTI leaders as well as condemnation by media fraternity.

Imran Khan’s tweet indirectly held the military establishment and ISI responsible for the “dastardly” attack. Condemning the incident, the former Prime Minister said, “I condemn in strongest terms the violence against senior journalist Ayaz Amir today. Pakistan is descending into the worst kind of fascism with violence & fake FIRs against journalists, opposition politicians, citizens etc. When the state loses all moral authority it resorts to violence”.

Imran’s chief of staff Shahbaz Gill tweeted that the incident is clear indication of the same tactics of traditional fascism.

The media fraternity held the view that such incidents against journalists are “constantly occurring, and was absolutely deplorable and unacceptable”.

Investigative reporter Umar Cheema tweeted that Amir became the target of all elements in Pakistani politics as he criticised the incumbent government seeking a change in the government while at the same time he attacked the Army and Imran Khan as well.

Another Pakistani media personality, Gharida Farooqi said that the attack on the senior columnist was the most condemnable act. She questioned whether it was an act by some affected persons or part of tactics against the govt? Najam Sethi tweeted that the physical attack on Ayaz Amir is shocking and reprehensible. It was meant to teach a lesson that some subjects are still taboo.

Vlogger Murtaza Solangi wrote that the “dastardly assault on senior journalist Ayaz Amir is despicable and disgusting”.

“Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz must order to punish the culprits,” he said. It is the duty of the security agencies and the police to find, prosecute and punish the thugs who had committed this horrible act.

Journalist Talat Hussain tweeted that “Ayaz Amir was beaten up today. Shameful. Absolutely condemnable.”

Columnist and author Hamid Mir, condemning the incident recalled that last year unidentified people had harassed journalist Asad Toor after barging into his house in Islamabad. “The assailants could not be arrested till date. If Asad Toor had got justice, unidentified men would have not dared to attack Amir.”

Journalist Azaz Syed tweeted that he spoke to Amir in the morning regarding his “domineering speech”. He said that “in the evening, this tragic incident took place. It is very important to expose the culprits by conducting an immediate investigation into the incident with Amir Sahib”.  (Agency)

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