Pakistan Must Act Against Those Attacking Scribes: Amnesty

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The rights body’s reaction came after Pakistani journalist Taha Siddiqui, who is working for an Indian English news channel, was attacked in Islamabad on Wednesday. 

NEW DELHI (IANS) — The Pakistan authorities must act tough against those targeting journalists and bring an end to the impunity in such attacks, human rights body Amnesty International said on Wednesday.

The rights body’s reaction came after Pakistani journalist Taha Siddiqui, who is working for an Indian English news channel, was attacked in Islamabad on Wednesday.

“The beating and attempted abduction of Taha Siddiqui is the latest in a deeply worrying pattern of attacks on journalists in Pakistan. This is the third case in recent months when a journalist has been targeted by violent attackers while travelling by car,” said Omar Waraich, Deputy South Asia Director at Amnesty International.

He said that it has thus far been “a failure by the authorities” to identify the perpetrators, let alone bring them to justice.

Siddiqui was driving to Islamabad airport when the car he was travelling in was besieged by at least 10 armed men at 8.20 a.m., who beat him, threatened to kill him, and tried to abduct him. 

The journalist escaped the assailants, but they took away his possessions, including his passport, laptop and mobile phone.

Winner of France’s highest journalism award, the Albert Londres prize in 2014, Siddiqui works with Indian TV channel WION’s.

“Pakistani journalists have a right to carry out their work freely and without fear. Journalism is not a crime, but attacking journalists is. These crimes must be immediately and effectively investigated,” Waraich said. 

“All journalists must be protected from violence and intimidation. And there must be a clear and unequivocal commitment by the Pakistani authorities to end impunity for attacks on journalists,” he added.

WION said here that Siddiqui was on leave for three days and was on his way to Islamabad airport in a cab early on Wednesday when another car overtook him and blocked his path.

It quoted Siddiqui as saying that about a dozen men yanked open the left side doors of the car and tried to pull him out before he got out from the other side. He then ran across the incoming traffic, got into another cab and managed to make his getaway.

Last year, journalists Rana Tanveeer, Matiullah Jan and Ahmad Noorani also came under attack by unidentified assailants. In 2014, journalists Hamid Mir and Raza Rumi narrowly survived attempted assassinations by gunmen.

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