Lahore: Senior journalist and political analyst Ayaz Amir was assaulted by unidentified men in Lahore on Friday night, a day after he termed Pakistan's Army generals "property dealers".
Amir (73) was returning home after his TV programme on Dunya News was intercepted by unidentified men. He claimed that he was dragged out of the car and thrashed.
With bruises on his face, Amir alleged that the masked men not only "hit him and tore his clothes, they also took away his cellphone and wallet. They left when people started gathering on the busy road".
"A man wearing a face mask emerged from the vehicle and collared my driver," Amir said as quoted by Dawn newspaper.
"As I questioned the man, a couple of other men also arrived by my side, opened the door of my car and unleashed blows to my face, and dragged me out of the vehicle," he added.
Amir said that the men also resorted to assaulting him on the road. He further said that since it was a crowded road, people began gathering and the attackers then made off with his mobile phone and wallet.
The incident comes just a day after Amir delivered a speech at a seminar, which was also attended by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, organised by the Islamabad High Court Bar Association on the topic 'Regime Change and its Fallout on Pakistan', according to Dawn.
During a speech at a seminar in Islamabad on the 'Regime Change and its Fallout on Pakistan', Amir targeted the powerful military establishment for its role in Pakistan's politics. The seminar was also attended by former prime minister Imran Khan.
He referred to the Army generals as "property dealers" and even suggested removing the portraits of Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Iqbal and replacing them with the "property dealers".
In an indirect reference to Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Amir said he was into his sixth year of tenure and looking for another extension.
Parts of Amir's speech have gone viral on social media.
He also pointed out the mistakes committed by Imran Khan during his tenure as the country's prime minister especially following the lines of the military establishment.
Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz has sought a report from the Inspector General of Police over the assault of the senior journalist and ordered that the culprits be arrested at the earliest.
Reacting to the incident, Imran Khan tweeted, "I condemn in strongest terms the violence against senior journalist Ayaz Amir today in Lahore. Pakistan descending into the worst kind of fascism with violence and fake FIRs against journalists, opposition politicians, and citizens. When the state loses all moral authority it resorts to violence."
I condemn in strongest terms the violence against senior journalist Ayaz Amir today in Lahore. Pak descending into the worst kind of fascism with violence & fake FIRs against journalists,opp politicians, citizens.When the State loses all moral authority it resorts to violence.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) July 1, 2022
Journalists, lawyer bodies and rights activists condemned the assault.
"Supreme Court of Pakistan needs to take suo moto (cognizance) of this terrorism against one of the most respected, non-controversial media figures. Ayyaz Amir is around 73 years of age! One of the most respected English columnists Pakistan has ever created! HRCP and Dawn and civil society must stand," senior journalist Moeed Peerzada tweeted.
Supreme Court must take sou moto notice of attack on prominent columnist, Ayyaz Amir & order IB & ISI to help Punjab Police to arrest the criminals within 24 hours- this is bare minimum to restore trust within system & on the capacity of state institutions @ArifAlvi
— Moeed Pirzada (@MoeedNj) July 1, 2022
Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz took notice of the assault and sought a report from the inspector general of the Punjab police.
In a statement, he said the attackers would be arrested and dealt with soon, reported Dawn.
"The incident is highly condemnable. The dispensation of justice in the case will be ensured," the chief minister added.
With inputs from agencies