Pakistani journalist Imran Riaz Khan was recovered after 5 months of going missing. He was arrested on May 23, 2023, at Sialkot airport, and his family and lawyers had no information about his whereabouts for several weeks.
The anchorperson, Imran Riaz Khan, who was missing for nearly five months, has been found and reunited with his family, according to District Police Officer Sialkot, Hassan Iqbal, on Monday. Imran Riaz Khan was taken into custody on May 11 at Sialkot Airport following protests on May 9 after PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s arrest from Islamabad High Court.
After his release from district jail on May 12, Riaz left in a private car. The Lahore High Court was informed on May 15 that he was released after providing a written undertaking. Despite being missing for a long time, the Lahore High Court gave the Punjab police chief a final chance on September 20 to find Riaz by September 26.
Sialkot police announced on X (formerly Twitter): “Journalist/anchor Mr Imran Riaz Khan has been safely recovered. He is now with his family.”
Riaz’s lawyer also shared on X: “Thanks to God’s grace and mercy, I have brought back my prince.”
He explained: “It took a long time due to various challenges, legal complexities, and limitations in the system.”
The lawyer added: “Despite the tough circumstances, today is a day of immense gratitude.”
Background of Imran Riaz Khan’s Case
Imran Riaz Khan was taken into custody after the violent protests on May 9 following Imran Khan’s arrest. However, on May 15, the Lahore High Court was informed about his release with a written undertaking. When his whereabouts remained unknown, his father Muhammad Riaz filed a report about the anchorperson’s abduction on May 16.
The report stated that Riaz was taken by unidentified individuals, invoking Section 365 of the Pakistan Penal Code. His father also filed a plea in the Lahore High Court for his recovery.
In a hearing on May 19, his father tearfully pleaded for mercy. The chief justice ordered the police to find and present Riaz before the court by May 22.
The court also instructed the interior and defense ministries to assist in his recovery after it was revealed that no police department across the country had any information about the journalist.
On May 26, the court directed all agencies to work together and produce Riaz in court by May 30.
On that date, IG Anwar revealed that phone numbers linked to Afghanistan were involved in the case.
Riaz’s lawyer mentioned in the June 6 hearing that their patience was wearing thin. Meanwhile, the Punjab administration informed the court that efforts to locate the journalist were underway. They were constantly looking for the reporter in five months.
Court’s Actions In Five Months
On July 5, the Lahore High Court set a deadline of July 25 for the police to find the journalists. But the hearing couldn’t take place due to bench unavailability.
During that hearing, retired Brigadier Falak Naz, representing the Ministry of Defence. Stated: “We are working on tracing locations and other issues. We are trying to recover Imran Riaz as soon as possible.”
On September 6, Punjab IG Usman Anwar told the Lahore High Court that they would have “good news” in the next few days. He was then given time until September 13.
However, failing to deliver any major updates, the IG on September 13 assured the court that the investigation was “progressing in the right direction.”
Finally, on September 20, the Lahore High Court gave the Punjab IG a “last chance” to find Riaz by September 26, and the proceedings were adjourned until then.