Absar Alam, former chair of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, is seen in Islamabad, Pakistan, on June 1, 2016. He was shot and injured today in Islamabad. (Reuters/Caren Firouz)

Journalist Absar Alam shot, wounded in Pakistan

Washington, D.C., April 20, 2021 — Pakistan authorities must conduct a swift and thorough investigation into the shooting of journalist Absar Alam and hold those responsible to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Earlier today, an unidentified man shot Alam while he was walking near his home in Islamabad, according to news reports and a video of Alam posted on Twitter after the attack. The man was in his late 20s and attacked the journalist while he was walking in a park, according to those reports.

Alam was brought to a hospital with a gunshot wound to his ribs and is in stable condition, according to those reports.

“Today’s shooting of journalist Absar Alam highlights the dangerous climate that all members of the press face in Pakistan if they dare to criticize the country’s powerful military,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “The perpetrators in this attack, as well as anyone involved in its planning, must be swiftly identified and brought to justice.”

A former television journalist and the former chair of the Pakistan Electronic Regulatory Authority, the country’s media regulator, Alam recently received a summons from the Federal Investigation Agency over his social media posts criticizing the interference in politics by “the establishment,” connoting Pakistan’s military, according to news reports.

Alam frequently posts political commentary, including criticism of the government, on his Twitter account, where he has about 90,000 followers. That summons was later dropped after the agency failed to provide a copy of the complaint or evidence to the Islamabad High Court, according to those reports.

In the video posted on Twitter, Alam said he would not be scared by the attack.

CPJ emailed the Federal Investigation Agency for comment, but did not immediately receive any response. Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry tweeted a condemnation of the attack and said that police had been asked to investigate.

In 2020, Pakistan ranked ninth on CPJ’s annual Global Impunity Index, which assesses countries where journalists are murdered regularly and their killers go free; at least 34 journalists have been murdered in Pakistan since CPJ began tracking killings in 1992.