LAHORE: Journalist, author and television anchor Raza Rumi escaped unhurt but his driver was killed and a police guard was injured when his car came under attack in a drive-by shooting here on Friday.
Police said it appeared to be a targeted attack, the first of its kind in Lahore, which alarmed local journalists.
The management of the media house for which Mr Rumi works said its employees and offices had been attacked in other parts of the country in the recent past and it believed that Friday’s action was another targeted action.
Mr Rumi, a former government official, also works for a civil society organisation.
A police official told Dawn that Mr Rumi left his Kalma Chowk office. When the car took a turn to Raja Market towards his Muslim Town residence it was intercepted and fired upon by men on two motorcycles.
His driver Mustafa and police constable Anwar Husain who was with him suffered bullet wounds. They were taken to the Hameed Latif Hospital where Mustafa was pronounced dead.
The official said the assailants had fired several shots with SMGs at the car which was badly damaged. Policemen found 11 empties from the site.
He said the constable had been deployed to provide security to retired Justice Sheikh Riaz Ahmad, the father of Mr Rumi.
City Police chief Chaudhry Shafique Ahmad said two police teams had been formed to arrest the assailants and establish the motive for the attack.
Speaking at a TV channel, Mr Rumi avoided saying anything about the motive of the attack and said let police complete their investigation.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has taken notice of the incident, directed police to ensure arrest of the assailants and sought a report from the IG.
He expressed grief over the death of the driver and directed the health department to provide proper medical treatment to the injured policeman.
AFP adds: The TV anchor is known for his outspoken views against Taliban.
Mr Rumi tweeted shortly after the attack: “Was fired at near Raja Market. My driver is wounded. I was dreading this day.”
Abbas Nasir, a former editor of Daily Dawn, said the incident was “utterly shocking”. “It’s clearly an attempt to silence the voices of sanity in the media.”
Amnesty International’s Pakistan researcher Mustafa Qadri said: “Mr Rumi’s case is a sad reminder of the threats faced by journalists like him who are promoting human rights and understanding in Pakistan society.
“Amnesty International has documented at least three cases of journalists killed this year as a direct result of their work, with scores of others, like Mr Rumi, narrowly escaping,” he said.
According to media campaign group Reporters Without Borders, seven journalists were killed in Pakistan last year and the country ranked 158th out of 180 nations in its press freedom ranking.