The journalist has been safely recovered and reunited with his family, according to the Sialkot police.
Anchorman Imran Riaz Khan, who had been missing for nearly five months, has been recovered and returned home safely, according to a statement released by the District Police Officer of Sialkot on Monday.
The journalist was detained on May 11 at the Sialkot Airport under 3MPO following nationwide protests on May 9 in response to the arrest of PTI chairman Imran Khan at the Islamabad High Court.
On May 12, following his release from the district jail, Riaz departed in a private car. The Lahore High Court (LHC) was notified on May 15 that the anchorperson was released from detention after signing a written pledge.
The LHC gave the Punjab police superintendent “one last chance” on September 20 to recover Riaz by September 26 after he had been missing for a considerable amount of time.
The Sialkot police stated, “The journalist and anchor Imran Riaz Khan has been recovered safely.” Now, he is with his family.”
Riaz’s attorney wrote, “By God’s special blessing, grace, and mercy, I have brought back my prince.”
He stated, “It took a long time due to the mountain of obstacles, the final limit of our understanding of the situation, a weak judiciary, the current ineffective public constitution, and legal helplessness.”
Further, the attorney wrote, “Despite the incomprehensible circumstances, Allah Almighty granted us this glorious day. Only boundless appreciation at the moment.”
Case chronology for Imran Riaz Khan
The YouTuber was arrested following the violent protests that erupted on May 9 in response to the detention of PTI Chairman Imran Khan.
However, the LHC was informed of his release after a written promise on May 15.
After his whereabouts remained unknown, a first information report (FIR) mentioning the abduction of the anchorperson was registered with Sialkot Civil Lines police on May 16 by his father Muhammad Riaz.
In the FIR filed against an unidentified individual, it was alleged that police officials kidnapped Riaz in violation of Section 365 of the Pakistan Penal Code (kidnapping or abduction with the intent to secretly and unjustly confine a person).
His father also lodged a recovery petition in the LHC.
In a hearing on 19 May, his teary-eyed father pleaded for clemency as the crackdown on violent protesters intensified. The next day, the chief justice of the high court ordered the police to recover the YouTuber and present him to the jury by May 22.
The LHC had also instructed the ministries of interior and defence to “carry out their constitutional responsibilities to effect the recovery” of the anchorperson after Punjab IG Anwar disclosed that no police department in the country had any record of the journalist.
Both Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) later informed the court that the journalist was not in their custody.
On May 26, the court ordered “all agencies” to work together to locate Riaz and bring him before the court by May 30.
On that date, IG Anwar informed the LHC that phone numbers traced to Afghanistan were implicated in the investigation.
At the hearing on June 6, Riaz’s attorney argued that his client’s patience was “wearing thin” despite the fact that the Punjab administration had informed the court that efforts were underway to locate the journalist.
The LHC set a deadline of July 25 for the police to locate the journalist on July 5, but no hearing could be conducted on that date because the bench was unavailable.
During this hearing, retired Brigadier Falak Naz, representing the Ministry of Defence, stated to the court, “We are working on tracing locations and other matters.” Imran Riaz is being recovered as quickly as possible.”
On September 6, Punjab IG Usman Anwar informed the LHC that the police would deliver “good news” within the next few days; subsequently, he was granted additional time until September 13.
Despite the absence of significant “good news,” the IG assured the court on September 13 that the investigation was “proceeding in the right direction.”
The court granted the Punjab IG a “last chance” to recover Riaz by September 26, adjourning the proceedings in a petition requesting his recovery until that date.