The attack on senior journalist Hamid Mir in Karachi has left everyone dumbfounded. Sadly, this is not the first time that a journalist has come under fire. Pakistan has never been an easy place to work for journalists, and the threats faced by them have only increased over time. The kind of questioning that has followed the attack is rather disturbing. Soon after the unfortunate incident, Amir Mir, Hamid’s brother told the media that his brother had informed his family and colleagues about the threats faced by him from ISI. Hamid Mir had warned that if he was targeted, the ISI and its chief would be responsible.

This revelation caused a stir in both local and international media. It is only fair to say that it is too early to jump to conclusions regarding the identity of those who attempted to take Mr Mir’s life. Suspicion alone cannot amount to sufficient proof for the involvement of any state-institution. The principle ‘innocent until proven guilty’ is to be applied to all entities within the country, be it journalists or intelligence agencies. However, the victim’s claim does merit an impartial investigation that includes individuals or institutions he deems responsible.

Perhaps the best the ISI can do, in this situation, is to present itself for accountability. If its hands are clean, and it is sincerely hoped that they are, there is no reason why it should oppose scrutiny. If the culprits are non-state actors, the intelligence agencies should ensure their arrest, and present them before a court of law. During this time of speculation and controversy, let us not lose focus of the fact that a man was shot six times for merely voicing his views. Such intolerance and barbarity can neither be endorsed nor excused.

Gulwish Ahmad,

Lahore, April 22.