Sun, 09 May 2021

Washington [US], April 22 (ANI): The United States on Thursday expressed grave concerns over the attack of Pakistan's leading journalist Absar Alam in Islamabad and called on local authorities to apprehend the culprits.

In a tweet, the US Department of State: the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs (SCA) said freedom of the press and the protection of journalists is crucial to an informed citizenry.

"Deeply concerning news of the recent attack on Absar Alam, a senior journalist in Pakistan. Freedom of the pressthe protection of journalists is crucial to an informed citizenry. We hope for Alam's speedy recoverycall on local authorities to quickly apprehend the culprits," the tweet from the bureau read.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has strongly condemned the "assassination attempt" on the country's leading journalist Absar Alam in Islamabad.

The rights commission in a statement on Tuesday termed these "cowardly acts" of violence against journalists as an assault on an "already muzzled media."Senior journalist and former Chairman of Pakistan Electronic Media Authority (PEMRA), Absar Alam, was shot in Islamabad on Tuesday.

In a video message, he said, "I've been hit in my ribs" and added that he had not lost hope. He added in a video shared by another Pakistani journalist, Asad Toor, "My message to those who did this is that I am not going to be scared by such tactics".

Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) strongly condemned the incident and demanded that the attackers be arrested immediately. "It seems that deep state is at large against journalist community who are victims of rising crime and terrorism in the country," the union said in a statement.

Pakistan continues to remain one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, and more and more scribes are being arrested for criticising the country's Army under the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act 2016 (PECA).

PECA, which is seen as the draconian tool to silence free speech, criminalises any speech considered to be "blasphemous" and even those who criticise state institutions.

Recently, a new section was added in PECA stating that those who intentionally ridicule, bring into disrepute or defame the Armed Forces of Pakistan will be sentenced up to two years and be fined over USD 3,018.

Pakistan has been ranked 145th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders's (RSF) 2020 World Press Freedom Index, three places lower than in 2019. (ANI)

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