LAHORE, 2 December: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has condemned the attack on the house of renowned columnist Kamran Shafi and described it as a cowardly bid to stifle the country’s media.
An HRCP statement issued on Wednesday reads as following:
The attack on journalist Kamran Shafi’s house in Wah on the eve of Eid cannot be dismissed as an ordinary crime, it constitutes a cowardly attack on the country’s media, and a threat to all independent-minded journalists. Shafi, himself a retired major of the army, is a vocal critic of defence services’ role in affairs of the state and had suggested in a recent column that the country’s premier intelligence agency, the ISI, should be headed by a civilian. The columnist said he received abusive e-mails on this point of view soon after he had expressed it. Then on Nov 27, a gunman fired six times at his house late at night. In his complaint to the police, Shafi said the attackers were linked to unidentified ‘agency.’
The attack on Shafi is not the first of its kind. Several other noted journalists have faced similar threats and abuses in the past and umazingly the culprits always remain unidentified and go unpunished. Besides, the targets happen to be journalists whose views disagree with those of the security establishment. Not a single perpetrator of such crimes has been apprehended, which strengthens the belief that some rogue elements within the establishment are involved.
Whatever freedom Pakistani media enjoys today has been gained after an arduous struggle and it should now forge unity to safeguard that freedom. HRCP demands the authorities must hold a credible and independent inquiry into the attack and punish severely those found guilty. Needless to say, that in the age of information technology attempts to muzzle the media are self-defeating.
|I. A. Rehman|