What Happened: On Tuesday, senior journalist Absar Alam was shot in the stomach by an unidentified man while walking outside his home in F-11, Islamabad. “Absar said he was suspicious of the man and this man was running around him, and on the fourth round, the attacker came close to him and shot him at very close range”, relayed journalist Gharidah Farooqi who met Alam at the hospital. Doctors say Alam’s life is currently out of danger, after suffering a broken rib and damage to his liver from the single bullet, which went through his body. While being taken to the hospital, he recorded a video message explaining the situation.
Who is Absar Alam: Absar Alam is a senior journalist and former chairman of Pakistan Electronic Media Authority (Pemra). He has been known to boldly criticise state infrastructure, and take on entities such as the military establishment, among others. On Sunday, Alam had posted a tweet where he alleged current ISI chief General Faiz Hameed had, in 2018, attempted to pressure Alam in his capacity as chairman of PEMRA.
The reaction: Prominent individuals have reacted to the news immediately on social media. Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry condemned the incident on Twitter, explaining that the police had been directed to launch an investigation. Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid also added that he had directed the Islamabad IG to take action.
The big picture: the incident has restarted the conversation about Press freedom in Pakistan, which is a contentious topic. Pakistan has frequently ranked extremely low on global press freedom indices, and at least 10 journalists have been murdered within the last year.