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Journalist Imtiaz Alam injured in attack, believes it to be linked to his criticisms of terrorism

(PPF/IFEX) - Senior journalist Imtiaz Alam, the secretary general of South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA), was attacked by unidentified men on 18 February 2009.

Alam said he was travelling to his house in Doctor's Colony at about 11:00 p.m. (local time) when four men attacked his car with batons and hockey sticks. Alam was injured when glass from the shattered car windows struck his arm.

After battering the vehicle for several minutes, the bearded men, clad in traditional clothing, fled on their motorcycles. Alam said the men were between 25 and 30 years old.

Alam's wife, Dr. Nusrat Habib, said she heard the men attacking the car not too far from their home and saw them flee the scene. Alam said he received a call from a cell phone about 45 minutes later that warned him of "dire consequences" if he told anyone about the attack.

The president of the Lahore Press Club, Sarmad Bashir, told PPF that they condemned the incident and demanded that those responsible for the attack be arrested as soon as possible. He said the government should be concerned about such attacks on journalists and it must devise a strategy to ensure their safety. Furthermore, he said that he met with Alam and it was not immediately clear who was behind the attack or what their motive was.

The Shadman Station House officer, Hamad Akhtar, said a First Information Report (FIR) had been filed and an investigation into the attack would begin soon.

Alam said the "cowardly act" was meant to stop him from speaking out against terrorism, but he vowed to continue to raise his voice against it.

"Daily Times" editor-in-chief Najam Sethi said the attack was an act of terrorism and an assault on the independent media. He urged the democratic government to take the attack on Alam seriously.

The president of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Huma Ali, the president of the Punjab Union of Journalists (PUJ), Ahsan Zia, and the secretary of the Lahore High Court Bar Association, Rana Asadullah, also condemned the incident and demanded that the government bring those responsible to justice.

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