Body formed to probe attack on Ahmed Noorani
ISLAMABAD: Amid indignation and condemnation from all sides, the government on Saturday formed a team to investigate the heinous attack on a journalist in the capital.
According to an interior ministry statement, the chief commissioner and the inspector general of Islamabad police have been tasked with investigating the attack on The News reporter Ahmed Noorani, who was pursued by six assailants and badly beaten near Zero Point on Friday.
The committee has been directed to finalise its report within three days.
Separately, police officials told Dawn that the acting Inspector General of Police Ashraf Zubair Siddiqi had also formed a four-member team to probe the incident, which consists of Superintendent of Police (SP) City Zubair Sheikh, SP (Investigation), sub-divisional police officer (city circle) and the Aabpara station house officer.
Sources said that the team had sought footage and stills from dozens of CCTV cameras fixed as part of the Safe City Project, adding that these would help pinpoint the culprits.
The unknown perpetrators have already been booked for attempted murder and other charges in response to a complaint lodged by the journalist’s driver, Mumtaz Chaudhry, who was also injured in the attack.
Meanwhile, the journalist bodies also swung into action, with the Rawalpindi-Islamabad Union of Journalists forming its own committee to probe the incident. Headed by veteran journalist Nasir Zaidi, the body includes senior journalist Nasir Malik, National Press Club President Shakil Anjum and RIUJ President Mubarak Zeb Khan.
The committee met on Saturday to hammer out a strategy on how to proceed with the probe. The members also visited Mr Noorani to obtain his account of the events that transpired on Friday, and is expected to hold meetings with senior government functionaries, law enforcement and security officials from Monday.
Journalists in the capital have already announced that they will hold a protest camp at the crime scene near Zero Point and would boycott the upcoming sessions of parliament if the culprits were not arrested by Monday.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has also condemned the brutal assault on Mr Noorani and called on authorities to swiftly investigate and bring to justice the perpetrators of the multiple attacks against journalists and news organisations in the country.
“These repeated brutal attacks show once again that nowhere is safe for journalists or news workers in Pakistan,” CPJ Asia Programme Coordinator Steven Butler said in a statement from Washington. “Pakistani authorities must assure that these attacks on press freedom come to a halt by swiftly finding and punishing those responsible,” the statement said.
The journalist is currently undergoing treatment at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims), and its Vice Chancellor Dr Javed Akram told Dawn that though Mr Noorani was out of danger, he was being kept under observation because of a blood clot on his scalp. He would be discharged within a day or two.
A number of key figures have visited Mr Noorani in hospital. Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah, who inquired after the reporter’s health on Saturday, said this was not the first such incident. “The voice of the media cannot be suppressed by such tactics. I demand that the government and local administration arrest the culprits,” he said.
Former interior secretary Tasnim Noorani also visited the ailing journalist in hospital on Saturday.
Earlier, PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, State Minister for Interior Talal Chaudhry and Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique called on Mr Noorani on Friday.
The director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations took to Twitter on Saturday evening to condemn the attack on Mr Noorani. He described it as a malicious attempt to cause unrest. “Full support for efforts to catch culprits & bring them to justice,” he said in his post.