Pakistan: Senior Pakistani journalist attacked in Punjab01 Apr, 2022
On March 27, journalist Zahid Sharif Rana was attacked by ten men in the Bakhar region of Pakistan’s Punjab province. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its Pakistan affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), in strongly condemning the attack, urging the Pakistani authorities to immediately launch an investigation into the assault so that the perpetrators can be brought to justice.
According to the First Information Report (FIR), Zahid Sharif Rana, a senior reporter at Daily Ausaf, was targeted by ten members of Tehreek-e-Insaaf, Pakistan’s ruling party, who assaulted and harassed him on the street.
In a video of the incident recorded by a bystander, Rana can be seen being beaten with ropes and batons and shoved to the ground. The assailants also dropped chemicals in his ear and eyes. In the FIR, six of the men were identified, whilst four remain unknown.
The journalist was targeted following a report he posted on his Facebook page about unlawful conduct by Tariq Rasheed and Irfan Rasheed, relatives of Amer Muhammad Khan, a member of the ruling party in the Punjab Provincial Assembly
The video of the incident went viral on social media, which visibly showed the journalist being tortured and beaten. According to local journalists, police have arrested two suspects while the others remain free.
This is not the first time Rana has been attacked for his work. On January 5, the journalist was targeted following an interview he conducted with a member of Pakistan’s Opposition, who accused Khan of “corruption and abuse of power”.
The National Press Club Islamabad (NPCI) and the Rawalpindi Islamabad Union of Journalists (RIUJ) both released statements condemning the attack and demanded an investigation into the incident, calling for those responsible to be punished.
The PFUJ also strongly condemned the incident. In a statement released by the PFUJ, the Secretary General, Rana Muhammad Azeem, called the incident an act of “inhuman behavior” and demanded that police officials and the government of Punjab arrest and sentence the culprits.
The IFJ said: “The IFJ condemns the attack on Zahid Sharif Rana and calls on the Pakistani authorities to launch an immediate investigation into the incident. The increasing number of journalists in Pakistan directly targeted for their work is deeply concerning. The IFJ urges the Pakistan government to fulfil its international obligations under the Pakistani Constitution and uphold press freedom.”