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Missing TV Anchor Imran Riaz Khan Found Safe

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In a remarkable turn of events, TV anchorperson Imran Riaz Khan, who had mysteriously disappeared for over four months, has been located and is now “safe at home.” The confirmation came from Punjab Inspector General (IG) Dr. Usman Anwar, marking a significant development in a case that had garnered widespread attention and concern.

Sialkot District Police Officer (DPO) Hassan Iqbal and Imran Riaz Khan‘s lawyer, Mian Ali Ashfaq, have also corroborated the news of his safe return. Imran Riaz Khan, a prominent YouTuber and television anchor, vanished from the public eye two days after violent protests erupted across Pakistan following the arrest of PTI Chairman Imran Khan on May 9.

His last known whereabouts traced him to the Cantt police station after his arrest, and subsequently, he was transferred to Sialkot prison. However, on May 15, a law officer informed the Lahore High Court (LHC) that Imran Riaz Khan had been released from jail after providing a written undertaking.

The LHC had set a deadline of September 26 for the Punjab police chief to recover Imran Riaz Khan, emphasizing that patience was running thin during the September 20 hearing. Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti presided over the proceedings and was resolute in expecting results.

In a recent social media announcement by the Sialkot police, they declared, “Journalist/anchor Mr. Imran Riaz Khan has been safely recovered. He is now with his family.” This news brought relief to the countless individuals who had followed the case closely and expressed concern for Khan’s welfare.

Imran Riaz Khan’s lawyer, Mian Ali Ashfaq, expressed his gratitude and relief, acknowledging the significant challenges they had faced during the ordeal. He referred to Imran Riaz Khan as his “prince” and highlighted the lengthy and challenging process of securing his release.

Journalist Wajahat S Khan, who spoke with Imran Riaz Khan’s family, noted that while the anchorperson was weak and not in the best of health, he had been reunited with his loved ones. The nation celebrated his return, with PTI leader Hammad Azhar expressing joy over the news.

Lawyer Khadija Siddiqi interpreted Imran Riaz Khan’s return as a “positive sign” and commented on the failed attempt to silence voices of dissent. She urged that the citizens of Pakistan should not be antagonized by their own state.

The PTI, in response to the development, called for the release of all political prisoners currently under “illegal incarceration” and emphasized the importance of upholding the rule of law. PTI leader Asad Qaiser commended Imran Riaz Khan’s return and called for other PTI leaders to be brought before the courts to clarify their alleged crimes.

Former senator Advocate Babar Awan reflected on the ordeal endured by Imran Riaz Khan, his family, friends, and the citizens of Pakistan. He expressed relief that the agonizing wait had finally come to an end.

The timeline of Imran Riaz Khan’s disappearance is as intriguing as his safe return. He went missing two days after violent protests erupted in the country following the arrest of PTI Chairman Imran Khan on May 9. His initial arrest led to his confinement at the Cantt police station and subsequently the Sialkot prison. However, on May 15, he was released from jail after providing a written undertaking.

An FIR for the alleged abduction of Imran Riaz Khan was filed on May 16 by his father, Muhammad Riaz, with Sialkot Civil Lines police. The FIR named “unidentified persons” and police officials as responsible for the alleged kidnapping, invoking Section 365 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The anchorperson’s father also filed a plea in the Lahore High Court (LHC) seeking his son’s recovery. During a May 19 hearing, he became emotional, pleading for mercy as the whereabouts of his son remained unknown. The LHC chief justice then ordered the police to recover and present Imran Riaz Khan by May 22.

On that date, the LHC directed the ministries of interior and defense to fulfill their constitutional duties and ensure the anchorperson’s recovery. However, IG Anwar reported that there was no trace of Imran Riaz Khan in any police department across the country.

Subsequently, both the Inter-Services Intelligence and the Military Intelligence denied having custody of the anchorperson. On May 26, the LHC directed all agencies to collaborate in locating and producing Imran Riaz Khan in court by May 30.

Despite these efforts, the anchorperson’s whereabouts remained unknown. During a June 6 hearing, his lawyer expressed growing impatience, even as the Punjab government claimed to be actively working on the case.

The LHC set a new deadline of July 25 for the police to find the missing journalist during a July 5 hearing. Unfortunately, no hearing took place on the designated date due to the unavailability of the bench.

During the July 5 hearing, retired Brigadier Falak Naz, representing the Ministry of Defence, informed the court about ongoing efforts to trace Imran Riaz Khan. On September 6, IG Anwar assured the LHC that the police were making progress in the case, promising “good news” in the near future.

Now, with Imran Riaz Khan safely back with his family, the nation celebrates his return, and the focus shifts to understanding the circumstances surrounding his disappearance and the challenges he faced during his absence.

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