During a hearing at the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday, Lahore police Deputy Inspector General (Investigation), Kamran Adil, informed that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Military Intelligence (MI) had denied holding anchorperson Imran Riaz Khan who has been missing since his arrest on May 11.
The court was examining a plea for the recovery of the TV presenter, who was arrested in the aftermath of public unrest following the detention of PTI chairman Imran Khan.
The legal team of the anchorperson had filed a writ petition on May 12, prompting the LHC to order the attorney general to produce him in court on the same day. When this order wasn’t followed, Sialkot police were given a two-day deadline to locate Imran.
The father of the missing presenter, Muhammad Riaz, lodged a formal complaint, leading to the filing of a First Information Report (FIR) on May 16 against “unidentified individuals” and police officials for allegedly abducting Imran. The charge falls under Section 365 (kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine a person) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
Punjab Inspector General Dr. Usman Anwar previously informed the court that there was no sign of the journalist in any police department nationwide, resulting in the LHC instructing the ministries of Interior and defense to fulfill their constitutional obligations to recover the missing presenter.
Today’s hearing was presided over by LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti, with the Lahore police DIG appearing instead of the Punjab IG. After the DIG confirmed the ISI and MI’s denial of custody, Imran’s father was allowed to address the court. He claimed his son was being punished for creating a vlog.
The court directed the legal team of the missing journalist to meet with the police later in the day and to present any available evidence to them. The hearing was then adjourned.
Earlier this week, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb came under fire for her comments about Imran’s disappearance. When confronted by a foreign correspondent about the issue of missing and detained journalists, Aurangzeb asked for the name of a missing journalist. When Imran’s name was mentioned, she said he is now a political party spokesperson, and differentiation must be made.
This statement drew considerable backlash from journalists and human rights activists who asserted that a person’s disappearance is a basic human rights concern, irrespective of their political affiliations.