A journalist who is critical of Pakistan’s powerful military and intelligence agencies was severely beaten by three unidentified men in an attack at his apartment in Islamabad, the journalist and colleagues said Wednesday.
Asad Ali Toor, who works for the Aaj News Pakistani TV channel, told police in a statement the attackers claimed they were intelligence agents.
He said they tied his hands and feet with cloth and one of them hit him with a pistol. Toor said the assailants asked about his source of income and forced him to chant slogans in favor of the army.
Apart from his work for the TV channel, Toor runs his own YouTube channel.
Last month, Toor claimed he received threats over his journalistic work.
There was no immediate response from the military, which was likely to issue a statement to distance itself from the assault. However, Pakistan’s minister for human rights, Shireen Mazari, condemned the attack on Toor. She took to Twitter, saying information minister Fawad Chaudhry was in contact with the police.
In a statement, the main representative body for journalists the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, denounced the attack on Toor. It said the “cowardly act of beating and harassing an independent journalist” showed the anxiety of anti-media agents bent on denying freedom of the press and free speech and expression in the country.
It demanded the immediate arrest of those responsible for the attack.
Amnesty International also took to Twitter, expressing its concern over the attack on Toor and urging Pakistani authorities “to take urgent steps to provide journalists with greater protection, following years of spiraling threats, intimidation and attacks against media workers in Pakistan.”
Although Pakistan’s government insists it supports freedom of speech, journalists and press freedom advocates often accuse Pakistan’s military and its agencies of harassing and attacking journalists.