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Pakistani police arrest media owner after scuffle in capital

February 16, 2022 GMT
Police officers escort Pakistani journalist Mohsin Baig, center, for his court appearance, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. Police arrested Baig, a prominent journalist and government critic, at his home on unspecified charges on Wednesday, his colleagues and local media said. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
Police officers escort Pakistani journalist Mohsin Baig, center, for his court appearance, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. Police arrested Baig, a prominent journalist and government critic, at his home on unspecified charges on Wednesday, his colleagues and local media said. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
Police officers escort Pakistani journalist Mohsin Baig, center, for his court appearance, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. Police arrested Baig, a prominent journalist and government critic, at his home on unspecified charges on Wednesday, his colleagues and local media said. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
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Police officers escort Pakistani journalist Mohsin Baig, center, for his court appearance, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. Police arrested Baig, a prominent journalist and government critic, at his home on unspecified charges on Wednesday, his colleagues and local media said. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
1 of 5
Police officers escort Pakistani journalist Mohsin Baig, center, for his court appearance, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022. Police arrested Baig, a prominent journalist and government critic, at his home on unspecified charges on Wednesday, his colleagues and local media said. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistani authorities Wednesday raided the home of a media owner and arrested him after a dramatic scuffle in which the man fired a pistol toward police and hit one officer in the head with the weapon, injuring him, police said.

Mohsin Baig, owner and editor-in-chief of news outlet Online and the Urdu-language Daily Jinnah newspaper, was arrested days after he appeared on a TV talk show. On the show he suggested that Prime Minister Imran Khan had showed favoritism by granting an award to a government minister, Murad Saeed, with whom he has a close friendship.

Authorities say police and the Federal Investigation Agency went to Baig’s home on a complaint from Saeed, who is the minister of communication. In his complaint, Saeed had accused Baig of tarnishing his character.

As officers tried to arrest Baig, he pulled out a pistol and fired in their direction but didn’t hit anyone, said Mohammad Ali, a police inspector. Pictures circulating on social media showed Baig beating an officer from the Federal Investigation Agency. Baig was then arrested.

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Police later opened a separate case against Baig on charges he attacked FIA officers and injured one of them.

Baig’s family told reporters that police and officials from FIA arrested him without giving any reason for the arrest.

Baig’s arrest drew condemnation from Pakistani journalists on social media. Dozens of journalists also rallied outside Baig’s media house to express solidarity with him.

The government gave no immediate comment.

Pakistan has long been an unsafe country for journalists. In 2020, it ranked ninth on the Committee to Protect Journalists’ annual Global Impunity Index, which assesses countries where journalists are regularly killed and the assailants go free.

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Associated Press writer Asim Tanveer in Islamabad contributed.