Imran Riaz Khan, a prominent Pakistani journalist and anchor known for his outspoken stance against the country’s military establishment and open support for former Prime Minister Imran Khan, returned to his family on Monday following his forced abduction four months ago.
Reports about his safe return were confirmed by the Sialkot police, which stated: “Journalist/anchor Mr. Imran Riaz Khan has been safely recovered... He is now with his family. "
Imran Riaz Khan’s lawyer also confirmed the news of his safe return to his family.
“By God’s special blessing, grace and mercy, I have brought back my prince,” said Advocate Ashfaq.
“It took a lot of time, due to the many difficulties faced, including a weak judiciary and the current state of constitution compounded by legal helplessness," he added.
Imran Riaz Khan’s return brought a sigh of relief to his family and supporters in the civil society and the journalist community of Pakistan, who had been raising the issue of his forced and illegal abduction for months.
Imran Riaz Khan was abducted on May 15 by unknown kidnappers, after he was released in a case registered against him on May 11.
Since then, his whereabouts remained unknown as he was not presented before any court, nor were any charges framed against him by any authority.
A case was registered in the Lahore High Court (LHC) seeking details of the whereabouts of Imran Riaz Khan, calling on the court to ensure recovery of the mainstream journalist.
Imran Riaz Khan’s support for former premier Imran Khan was evident through his social media vlogs and his television programs.
After Imran Khan was ousted from power in April 2022, Imran Riaz Khan was among the frontline supporters of the former premier, calling his opposition political alliance parties as traitors, looters and corrupt.
Imran Riaz Khan was also very vocal about the military establishment, as he echoed Imran Khan’s narrative of regime change and slammed the military establishment for acting on directives of the US administration to oust the government.
He was also outspoken about other mediapersons and journalists, tagging them as corrupt and aligning them with what he termed as the narrative of the traitors against the ousted premier.
“Imran Riaz Khan’s return is a relief. Pakistan has a history of journalists, who have been subjected to kidnappings, assaults, tortures and even killings to the hands of powerful quarters (intelligence agencies),” said prominent journalist and anchor Muneeb Farooq.
Pakistan is rated as one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists where press freedom and freedom of expression is consistently oppressed.
Journalists have been subjected to targeted attacks, assassinations attempt, tortures, kidnappings, abductions and even killings.