Asad Ali Toor was attacked after three armed men forced their way into his apartment and interrogated him about his ‘financial sources.’
According to the journalist, his lawyer, and police, Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, three unidentified individuals assaulted a prominent Pakistani journalist after breaking into his flat in what looks to be the latest episode of violence against press freedom in the South Asian country.
According to journalist Asad Ali Toor, the attack occurred on Tuesday at roughly 11 p.m. (18:00 GMT) when he heard the doorbell of his residence in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, ring.
“[The person at the door] waved a weapon at him and told him to back away,” said Haider Imtiaz, Toor’s lawyer and a member of the Pakistan Bar Council’s Journalist Defense Committee.
“He attempted to flee, but [the assailant] yelled at him, ‘If you don’t step back, I’m going to shoot you.'”
According to Toor’s statement, he was dragged to his bedroom and bound, gagged, and beaten by the attacker and two others who had entered with him.
“They tossed me to the floor and warned me not to make a sound, or they would shoot me,” according to the statement.
“[One of the attackers] began continuously striking me in the elbows with his gun butt. […] I attempted to yell but received no response.”
According to Toor, the attackers identified themselves as Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, which rights groups have previously accused of participation in enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.
The military’s press arm in Pakistan did not react to the accusation.
Toor claimed he was interrogated about his sources of money and “financing” and made to yell chants are praising Pakistan, its military, and the ISI while simultaneously criticizing Pakistan’s eastern neighbor India, northwestern neighbor Afghanistan, and Israel.
Zia Bajwa, a police spokesperson, confirmed the attack and stated that an inquiry was underway. We saw toor hobbling and blood showing on the sleeves of his shirt in video footage taken by journalists at the government hospital where he was treated.
“[Earlier this month, the government] passed the Journalists Protection Bill, and this is a message to people who voted for the bill that it is nothing more than a piece of paper…,” Toor told Al Jazeera from his house, as police were gathering evidence in the adjacent room.
On Wednesday, scores of people demonstrated outside Islamabad’s press club in protest at the attack on Toor and demanded responsibility for those who have attacked journalists in the past.
According to one poster, “the attack on Asad Toor is an attack on all of us.”