MULTAN, Pakistan - A Pakistani journalist working with the country's largest media group has been badly beaten, police said Monday, the latest attack on media workers in the country.
Zafar Aaheer, resident editor of the top-selling Urdu-language newspaper Jang, was attacked when he left his office in the southern city of Multan early Sunday.
Jang is part of the group that owns the country's widely watched Geo TV and is currently at odds with the powerful military.
In April unidentified attackers shot and injured senior anchor Hamid Mir, who hosted a popular talk show on Geo TV, in the southern city of Karachi.
The TV station became embroiled in a row with the military after it aired allegations that the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was behind Mir's shooting.
The defence ministry has urged the national media regulator to cancel Geo TV's broadcasting licence.
The channel is also facing the wrath of the religious community for airing programmes which the clerics say are blasphemous and defame Islam.
"We have registered a case of kidnapping, mobile snatching, beating and damaging the car of Zafar Aaheer against unknown people," Amjad Javed Salimi, a senior police official in Multan, told AFP.
"We are investigating this case. Apparently he was attacked by the people who were angry at his media group because of their programmes which hurt their religious faith," said Salimi.
Aheer said he could not identify his attackers, who numbered about seven and were travelling in a car and on a motorcycle.
"They broke the windows of my car and punched me inside the car," he told AFP. "They shouted at me that I and my group are agents of India." Amnesty International said last week that Pakistani journalists face threats from a host of sources, including the ISI, the Pakistani Taliban, Al-Qaeda-linked groups, ethnic Baluch rebels, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militants and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, a political party dominant in Karachi.
Since the restoration of democracy in Pakistan in 2008, at least 34 journalists have been killed because of their work, Amnesty said.
But the culprits have been brought to justice in only one of those cases.