KARACHI: Senior journalist, columnist and an active member of struggle for the press freedom in the country, Waris Raza, was taken away by personnel of law enforcement agencies from his home in Sahafi Colony in the early hours of Wednesday morning but was released by the evening, according to his colleagues and media organisations.

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) condemned the detention of the journalist, who has over 30 years of experience in print and electronic media and is presently associated with Urdu newspaper, Express, as a columnist. Arif Raza, the brother of Mr Waris, confirmed that he reached back home in the evening.

Journalist bodies to hold protests today against Raza’s daylong detention

Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) general secretary Fahim Siddiqi earlier said that law enforcement agencies personnel arrived at the residence of Mr Waris in Sahafi Colony in Gulshan-i-Iqbal at around 2:45am and took him away. The family quoted the personnel as telling them that they would “release him after a while”.

Mr Siddiqi quoted the family as saying that Mr Waris made a phone contact at around 6:50am to inform that ‘he is coming’.

The PFUJ and KUJ condemned the detention.

KUJ president Nizamuddin Siddiqi, general secretary Fahim Siddiqi and members of the executive council in a statement said Mr Waris performed an important task by compiling a book containing 70-year struggle of the PFUJ for media freedoms in the country. He remained part of every struggle for media freedoms and freedom of expression.

“His arrest is a matter of concern and the KUJ considers it an attack on media freedom,” it added.

The PFUJ announced that journalist bodies across the country would hold protests against the detention on Thursday.

PFUJ president Shahzada Zulfiqar and secretary general Nasir Zaidi in a statement said that at this moment every voice for media freedoms and freedom of expression was being suppressed. “If the government thinks that arrest of some persons and registration of cases would pave the way for legislation of draconian laws, it is their illusion.” It said that the PFUJ that had already been protesting against the controversial Pakistan Media Development Authority.

Drawing attention of the Chief Justice of Pakistan over the ‘enforced disappearance’, the KUJ announced that a rally would be held outside the Karachi registry of Supreme Court on Thursday morning to record their protest.

Earlier at around 1:09pm on Wednesday, a daughter of Mr Waris, Laila Raza, tweeted: “It’s been ten hours now, my papa, senior journalist and columnist Waris Raza was abducted by law enforcement agencies last night, they want to suppress all progressive voices. My father has done nothing, but speaks truth to powers that be.”

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2021

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