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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Ahmed Noorani Attack: Media & Politicians condemn but speculations continue..?

News Analysis |

Ahmed Noorani, senior reporter for The News International, was severely beaten by six armed assailants on Friday in Islamabad. He and his driver both received injuries in the assault. Noorani has described that three men riding on an unmarked bike, forcibly stopped his car while he was going back home. Three other young men, on another bike, also  joined-in. Assailants attacked him with knives and iron rods. They sped away leaving him critically injured and bleeding.

Noorani was first taken to Polyclinic Hospital, later he was shifted to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) where he is currently being treated. It is not clear who has attacked him, though Noorani has told media that assailants tried snatching his mobile phones but were not successful. Though Islamabad Safe City Project has hundreds of cameras monitoring flows of traffic on all major arteries but apparently, police is unable to find the unmarked bikes, fleeing from the attack scene, on the feed from those cameras which is raising all kinds of questions.

Attack on Noorani has happened within a few weeks of his deactivating his Twitter account. He had also stopped writing his news stories – presumably under pressure from some quarters. However it’s not clear if he took those steps under pressure from his own organization or from some government quarters. Some journalists close to Ahmed Noorani insisted to GVS that he deactivated his “twitter account” on his own. Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal had also recently taken a very strong line against the abuse of social media and threatened action by FIA against all those violating new laws. Though, there is no evidence to suggest that any government agency had been putting pressure on Noorani, yet the circumstances of the attack are leading to all kinds of speculations.

Critics are trying to give the impression that the attack was a false flag, something that defies logic, according to watchers. However, with usual suspects taking this incident within the context of the high-touted civil-military tussle.

The journalist fraternity and political leaders have condemned the attack strongly. Assumption is that attack has been done by those who may have been upset by Noorani’s writings. Noorani, for his strong writings and controversial tweets, could have been seen as “troublesome” by many quarters. In 2014, during PTI dharnas in Islamabad, he tweeted that “Imran Khan should be hanged on D-chowk and then PTI should be banned”. The thrust of media’s reaction was that regardless of disagreements with any reporter, such acts of violence to silence expression are not acceptable.

Imran Khan, who has been a repeated victim of Noorani’s hateful remarks and unsubstantiated stories, took to Twitter to condemn the attack. However, his critics were not satisfied. They tried connecting PTI’s video criticizing Noorani with an attack on Noorani, conveniently forgetting that Noorani had been vociferously attacking Imran Khan and PTI going to the extent of demanding Imran Khan’s hanging and the principle of freedom of expression that protect a journalist also protect a political party and its leaders.

While Ahmed Noorani has been seen by most opposition parties, and leaders as someone who has abused the power of the pen and keyboard to spread stories with little veracity, or for disinformation, all his critics and perceived enemies have strongly condemned the attack on him. Noorani also faced contempt proceedings in Supreme Court of Pakistan along with his publisher, Mir Shakeel ur Rehman. Some journalists believe that he had already applied for political asylum in the UK – however it’s not confirmed. Condemnation is pouring in from all quarters, including those whom Noorani mocked and vilified day-in, day-out.

While media and political circles are unanimous on condemning the barbaric assault on Ahmed Noorani, strong disagreements exist on who could have done it. Most are quietly worried on how a certain cross section in the media and the political community, including govt. ministers are trying to connect this with judiciary or establishment.

While others have pointed out that this attack may have been done by a “third force” to orchestrate civil-military divide in the country. Rana Azeem, PFUJ President, has argued on TV channels that, “this attack does not appear to be from those who are being blamed on twitter 24/7”. He hinted that this appears to be from, “An agency that works directly under the Prime Minister”. His comments are believed to directed towards Intelligence Bureau (IB). DG IB has been criticized by opposition parties and media to be reporting still to ex-PM Nawaz Sharif. He travelled to Raiwind and London to brief Nawaz Sharif -even after his disqualification. Nawaz Sharif was earlier believed to be reaching back on Oct 29 – to face court cases. Sources in media claim that Jang/Geo group intends to launch country wide protests against this attack from Mon, Oct 30.

Rana Azeem, PFUJ President, has argued on TV channels that, “this attack does not appear to be from those who are being blamed on twitter 24/7”. He hinted that this appears to be from, “An agency that works directly under the Prime Minister”.

Prominent TV Anchor, Mohd Malik, ex-MD Ptv, has argued on media that this attack may represent,”Inter-Agency conflict”, he thinks that one agency has orchestrated this attack to put blame on the other agency. Govt’s inability to find images of fleeing motor bikers, without registration plates, from the crime scene, despite a billion rupee project of “Islamabad Safe City” cameras is fueling these speculations.

Note: This is a continuing story, has been updated once, with additional details available so far; will be updated again with more inputs – GVS Desk