Noorani on way to recovery while outrage persists over attack on journalist

  • Ahsan says interim report of Noorani attack to be submitted in three days

ISLAMABAD: The health of the outspoken journalist Ahmed Noorani is steadily improving, while outrage and concern over the physical assault carried out on him on Friday continue unabated.

The condition of Noorani, who was assaulted by unidentified men on Khayabane Suharwardy on Friday, is steadily improving, as confirmed by his brother on Saturday. However, the journalist from The News is still admitted in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) and has been advised complete rest by the doctors.

Doctors are deliberating whether to conduct a third MRI scan of the patient, who is suffering from severe injuries including those to his head.

On the other hand, Minister for Interior Ahsan Iqbal said the police and local administration were investigating the attack on Noorani and they would present an interim report on the incident within three days.

Talking to a private news channel, he strongly condemned the attack on Noorani and said the attackers would be arrested and punished according to law.

The minister further said the government had pledged to make the federal capital a peaceful and secure city, adding measures would be taken to stop untoward incidents in the city in future.

Meanwhile, the independent watchdog organisation Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on Pakistani authorities to investigate the incident and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

On Saturday, Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah visited Noorani at the hospital. Speaking to the media on the occasion, he condemned the attack and called on the authorities to catch the culprits immediately.

Notably, he pointed out that Noorani was a journalist who always stood up for the truth. “The truth cannot be silenced [by such violence],” he added.

Earlier, Noorani was also visited by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto, who emphasised on the need for protection of journalists.

On Friday, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif called upon Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to thoroughly investigate the attack on senior journalist Ahmed Noorani and bring the accused to the fore.

A committee has been formed on Abbasi’s orders and has been directed to present a report on the case within three days. Islamabad’s chief commissioner and inspector general are among the members of this committee.

Noorani and his driver were assaulted by six men on their way back from an errand in Rawalpindi to Islamabad on Friday. Three armed motorcyclists, on an unmarked motorcycle, stopped their car near Zero Point and were joined by three other men to beat the two unsuspecting victims with chains, iron rods and knives. The attackers fled after a crowd started gathering and traffic came to a halt.

Noorani had been facing threats recently for his reporting in The News. According to reports, he shifted his residence from Rawalpindi to Islamabad due to these threats, and also deactivated his Twitter account earlier this month.

Among those who have come under Noorani’s bold criticism frequently are Pakistan’s military personnel and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) top leadership. Two of his theories include Pakistan military’s involvement in Nawaz Sharif’s ouster and allegations of financial impropriety against PTI’s top leadership.

According to a report on an international media outlet, Pakistan is considered one of world’s most dangerous countries for journalists. In 2014, Hamid Mir, a prominent journalist and talk show host, survived an attempt on his life. In 2011, another leading investigative journalist, Syed Saleem Shahzad, was found dead.

Meanwhile, DG ISPR sent a bouquet to the journalist at PIMS, and prayed for his quick recovery. He also assured cooperation in trying to identify the attackers and bringing them to justice.