A year after Raza Rumi attack, little change for Pakistan’s beleaguered press

Raza Rumi11

Raza Rumi, pictured in Washington, D.C. in March at a rally for a murdered Bangladeshi blogger, has been living in the U.S. since gunman attacked him last year. (Raza Rumi)

One year ago Raza Rumi, a TV anchor and widely-respected analyst in Pakistan, narrowly escaped death when gunmen opened fire on his car in an attack that killed his driver, Mustafa. When I wrote about the March 28 attack, the fourth on the Express Group in eight months that had left four people dead, I highlighted the lack of a police investigation.

I went on to repeat a recommendation the Committee to Protect Journalists has made many times:

First and foremost, Friday’s attack on Rumi and his driver were crimes: murder and attempted murder. They must be investigated as such. It does not require a special commission, as came after the killing of Saleem Shazhad in 2011, or Hayatullah Khan in 2006, or after the sadistic attack on Umar Cheema in 2010. Practice has shown that those commissions achieve little or nothing, and the perpetrators go unprosecuted.

It’s not like the government took my advice, but there was no special commission named to look into the attack on Rumi and his driver. The police did investigate and there has been some movement, but little conclusive. In the past week, Rumi and I have been communicating about last year’s events. He moved to the U.S. soon after the attack, stringing together fellowships and think tank appointments, writing for papers in Pakistan and online, but no longer hosting his TV show. He filled me in on the status of the case:

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Assassin Who Loved Tom & Jerry

ISLAMABAD: Before he allegedly killed 14 people and narrowly missed four “high value targets”, Abdul Rauf was obsessed with the Tom and Jerry cartoon series.

He took a great pleasure in watching how Jerry always outsmarted deceptive moves of Tom. He used to laugh a lot.

Not only that, he regularly watched daily current affairs shows to get a better understanding of the political and ideological inclinations of prime-time anchors.

Time and money were two luxuries that he could afford and enjoy.

According to police sources, Rauf tried to kill a senior journalist, Raza Rumi, and a renowned playwright, Asghar Nadeem Syed.

But how did a Tom and Jerry lover become a ruthless killer? Who were his handlers? Or was he a lone wolf, ready to devour his next target?

Investigation by Daily Capital reveals Rauf came from a wealthy family running a wholesale business in Badami Bagh, Lahore. The family owned a big, sprawling house and owned hundreds of acres of land in Kasur and other districts.

Though conservative and religious, his family members never displayed signs of extremism. Infact, a few of Rauf’s aunts were married in Shia families.

In April 2014, police arrested six suspects, including Rauf.

“The mastermind Abdul Rauf Gujar belongs to a banned militant outfit, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ),” Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Chaudhry Shafiq had told the media.

Five other suspects were Shafaqat Farooqi alias Muavia, Mohammad Hashim, Sheikh Farhan, Suleman Pathan and Sabir Shah.

Rauf and his gang had attacked Raza Rumi on March 28, 2014. The anchor made a narrow escape, but his driver, Mustafa, lost his life in the incident. Continue reading

Attack on Raza Rumi

March 28th, 2014

Pak Tea House

Our chief editor Raza Rumi has been attacked today. He has luckily survived the attack whereas his driver, a very young guy, could not make it.

This is a very serious incident and it highlights the deteriorating situation in Pakistan with respect to the safety of all those who are challenging the consistent erosion of freedom.

Our chief editor was attacked because he symbolises freedom and courage in a society which is spiraling rapidly into abyss. When they can not argue and win on the basis of rationale despite the fact that they get the space on media also, they resort to violence. And this violence is not bravery but cowardice. And this will continue unless we muster enough courage to put an end to this.

We hope that Government of Punjab takes serious steps to protect the media personnel and also ensure that the culprits in this case are apprehended.

We wish best of luck and health to our chief editor.

Regards

PTH Team

Raza Rumi: I’m Proud of You!

March 29th, 2014

Pak Tea House

Kasim Osmani

It is nothing but a stroke of luck when you happen to meet and start working with your most favorite personality. The very idea that you are going to work with country’s prominent political analyst excites the imagination. It fills you with high spirits and you feel like the luckiest person on planet. I felt so, when I met and started working with Raza Rumi.

A day after I shared my profile, I found myself sitting across Raza Rumi, having kehwa and discussing how I could contribute to his bulging workload. Staring at him with almost static eyeballs, I expressed my earnest gratitude and determination for the given responsibilities. Continue reading

Calling Us Dollar Hungry and Fake Liberals

March 30th, 2014

Pak Tea House

Raza Habib Raja

Raza Rumi, whom I consider a good friend, elder brother  and a mentor, was attacked two days ago. He survived whereas his young driver, Mustafa could not make it. When it happens to a person known well to you and to whom you owe a lot, the incident becomes personal at many levels.

Suddenly, you realize that words which are being written and spoken are not just a harmless exercise but entail life threatening consequences. And it also makes you realize that in this country- where ironically you are mocked at by titles like “Pseudo Liberal”, “Fake Liberal”, “Dollar Khor”, “Indian and US Agents”- you are always risking your life and despite the risk, continue to be mocked by our sick urban middleclass. Continue reading

Attacks on Raza Rumi, worship places represent new wave of intolerance: HRCP

Press Release:

Lahore, March 31: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed alarm over a number of disturbing developments including the assault on journalist Raza Rumi and attacks on temples in Sindh and called these a new wave of intolerance.

In a statement issued on Monday, the Commission said: “HRCP has grave concerns over a number of recent incidents, including an attack on Raza Rumi in Lahore, a spate of assaults at Hindu temples, the most recent one being in Hyderabad, and the death sentence for Sawan Masih in a blasphemy case. Continue reading

Raza Rumi: Voice by Heart

Amir Abbas Turi

These are the ruthless terrorists who are heartless and do not spare even the humanity lovers and peace-preachers such as Raza Rumi. Callous inhumane terrorists are taking lives of innocent people in this Land of Pure – Pakistan – and Mustafa, Rumi’s martyred driver, is the latest addition to this episode. On the eve of Friday, merciless culprits showered bullets on this non-violent team in the streets of ‘Takht-e-Lahore’. Continue reading