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Two Pak Journalists Attacked by Unidentified Assailants in Punjab

The incident comes ahead of the general elections that are due on 25 July in the country.

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Two Pakistani journalists came under attack late on Tuesday, 5 June, by unidentified men in Pakistan’s Punjab province, Daily Pakistan reported.

Gul Bukhari, a Pakistani journalist and activist known for her vociferous criticism of Pakistan's military, was allegedly abducted by unknown men in Lahore. But her hours-long abduction ended due to an online uproar by netizens blaming intelligence agencies for her sudden and forced disappearance, PTI reported.

Columnist Bukhari was set to appear on Waqt TV studio for a show when she was intercepted and abducted on Sherpao Bridge in Lahore's Cantonment area at around 11 pm last night, the report added.

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The driver of the Waqt TV cab told the police that two persons came out of a double-cabin and asked Bukhari to get into their vehicle.

When she refused they bundled her up in the vehicle and sped away.
The driver said, adding that her abductors did not say anything to him.

Hammad, a police official, said the police had reached Bukhari's house but she refused to record her statement at the moment. "We will visit her in the morning again for her statement," he told PTI.

Later, Bukhari's family registered a missing report at a local police station. Some three hours later, Bukhari's family confirmed that she has returned home, the PTI report added.

It, however, did not talk about her abductors.

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In Similar Incident, Pak Journalist Asad Kharal Brutally Thrashed

In another incident, Asad Kharal, an investigative journalist and chief news analyst at BOLNETWORK, was brutally thrashed near Allama Iqbal International Airport by ‘masked’ men on Wednesday morning, Express Tribune reported.

Kharal was on his way home when his vehicle was intercepted following which he was physically assaulted. He was then moved to Lahore Services Hospital for medical treatment. Kharal confirmed the incident in a tweet.

Senior police officer Bilal Zafar said, "Kharal has been tortured by unidentified persons when he was coming out of the Lahore airport." He said a case will be registered on the statement of Kharal.

Kharal who was allegedly attacked by men affiliated to the ruling government is yet to accuse those who were involved in the attack, the Express Tribune report added.

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Journalists Condemn Attacks in Online Uproar

As the news of Bukhari's abduction broke out, several people took to social media blaming the intelligence agencies for her forced disappearance allegedly because of her extreme views about the Pakistani army. Journalists, politicians and people from all across the spectrum in Pakistan also condemned the attack on Kharal.

Expressing alarm over Bukhari’s disappearance, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent watchdog working to promote press freedom worldwide, called on the police to ensure her “prompt and safe return.”

In a tweet, the British High Comission said it is assisting with consular access post Bukhari’s abduction.

Maryam Nawaz Sharif, the daughter of former prime minister Nawaz Sahrif and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader, reacted sharply on Twitter and expressed her shock.

Pakistan Peoples Party’s Aseefa Bhutto Zardari hoped for Bukhari’s safe and sound recovery.

In his sharp backlash, journalist Syed Talat Hussain called the abduction the “most audacious attempt to silence a critic.”

Channel 24 anchor Nasim Zehra appealed in a tweet to take swift action against attackers and kidnappers fast.

Waseem Abbasi, special correspondent at USA Today, said any attack on a journalist is condemnable.

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Following the alleged abduction, hashtag #BringBackGulBukhari was trending on Twitter.

The incidents took place amid a growing crackdown on free speech in Pakistan as the general elections are due on 25 July in the country.

(With inputs from PTI, Tribune, Dawn)

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