In a welcome turn of events, a prominent journalist and anchorperson Imran Riaz Khan has been reunited with his family after an agonizing absence of nearly five months. The news was confirmed by Sialkot District Police Officer (DPO) Hassan Iqbal and Riaz’s lawyer, Mian Ali Ashfaq, with Punjab Inspector General (IG) Dr. Usman Anwar also verifying the development.
Sialkot police announced on social media platform X (formerly Twitter), “Journalist/anchor Mr. Imran Riaz Khan has been safely recovered. He is now with his family.”
Mian Ali Ashfaq, Imran Riaz Khan’s lawyer, expressed his gratitude, saying, “By God’s special blessing, grace, and mercy, I have brought back my prince. It took a lot of time due to the pile of difficulties, the last limit of understanding of the matter, a weak judiciary, and the current ineffective public constitution and legal helplessness. Despite the unspeakable circumstances, Allah Almighty showed us this best day. Only limitless gratitude right now.”
Enforced Disappearance Ends
Imran Riaz Khan’s disappearance dates back to two days after violent protests erupted nationwide following the arrest of PTI Chairman Imran Khan on May 9. He was last seen being taken to Cantt police station after his arrest and subsequently to Sialkot prison. On May 15, a law officer informed the Lahore High Court (LHC) that the anchorperson had been released from jail after providing a written undertaking.
The Lahore High Court had set a deadline of September 26 for the Punjab police chief to recover Imran Riaz Khan after granting a “last opportunity” on September 20. The adjourned hearing is scheduled to take place tomorrow.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) welcomed the return of well-known Pakistani journalist Imran Riaz Khan, who had been “missing” for nearly five months. In a statement, PTI highlighted Imran Riaz as one of the many victims of “Enforced Disappearances” in Pakistan.
“These are innocent people who are either members and supporters of Pakistan’s largest and only federal party PTI, led by Chairman Imran Khan, or people who have raised their voices against the unprecedented fascism, utter lawlessness, suspension of the constitution, and dismantling of democracy in the country,” the statement added. PTI called for the release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience, emphasizing the need for the rule of law.
Imran Riaz Khan’s ordeal began with his arrest two days after violent protests swept across the country following the detention of PTI Chairman Imran Khan on May 9. Subsequently, he was taken to Cantt police station and later transferred to Sialkot prison. On May 15, the anchorperson’s release from jail was confirmed after providing a written undertaking.
The journalist’s father lodged a First Information Report (FIR) regarding Imran Riaz’s alleged abduction with Sialkot Civil Lines police on May 16. He also filed a plea in the LHC for his son’s recovery.
The Lahore High Court’s chief justice had ordered the police to recover and present the anchorperson by May 22, but there was no trace of him at any police department across the country. The LHC subsequently directed the ministries of interior and defense to discharge their duties for the recovery of the anchorperson. Both the Inter-Services Intelligence and the Military Intelligence denied having custody of Imran Riaz.
Despite multiple efforts, Imran Riaz Khan remained missing for an extended period. The Punjab police chief was finally given “a last opportunity” by the Lahore High Court on September 20 to recover Riaz by September 26, raising hopes for his return.
Imran Riaz Khan’s safe return marks a moment of relief and celebration for his family, supporters, and the journalism community at large.