Anchorperson Imran Riaz’s father became teary-eyed in the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday, pleading for mercy, as the whereabouts of his son remain unknown since his arrest on May 11 from the Sialkot airport.

Imran was among those taken into custody following protests that broke out in the aftermath of PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s arrest.

Later, his lawyer told Dawn.com that a writ petition was filed on May 12 over the anchorperson’s arrest and the LHC directed the attorney general to present him before the court the same day. But, after its orders were not followed, Sialkot police on Monday were given a 48-hour deadline to recover Riaz.

A first information report (FIR) pertaining to the matter was registered with Civil Lines police the next day on the complaint of the anchorperson’s father, Muhammad Riaz.

The FIR was registered against “unidentified persons” and police officials for allegedly kidnapping Riaz, invoking Section 365 (kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine person) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

At the last hearing on Thursday (yesterday), the LHC had ordered Punjab Inspector General (IG) Dr Usman Anwar to apprise it of progress on Imran’s recovery by 12pm today.

A father’s plea

  A photograph of Muhammad Riaz, father of anchorperson Imran Riaz’s father, taken outside the Lahore High Court on Friday. — Photo by author
A photograph of Muhammad Riaz, father of anchorperson Imran Riaz’s father, taken outside the Lahore High Court on Friday. — Photo by author

During the hearing today, Muhammad pled his case before LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti, saying, “For God’s sake, have some mercy on your country. Don’t play with the law.”

“It is clear as day. Everyone in this court is aware … All of them know that they handed [him] over,” he added without naming anyone.

“This is the truth, this is the government of Pakistan, people go missing here.

“Have mercy, have mercy,” Muhammad said.

He added: “His (Imran Riaz’s) crime was speaking the truth. Kill [him] for once so that our restlessness ends. I am the father who taught [him] to speak the truth. Feel my pain.”

IG briefs court

Earlier in the hearing, the IG briefed the court on the progress, saying that they had held meetings with relevant agencies and formed a working group, a meeting of which was also held.

He presented a chart in the court, informing the court that geofencing was first carried out at the Sialkot airport.

The official further said police had obtained 50 recordings of CCTV footage and it would take three to four days to review all of them.

He assured the court that police were making all-out efforts and employing all resources to locate Imran.

However, he added, that “if an individual is hiding out of his own will, then we don’t have anything to say”.

While the IG was giving the briefing, the LHC CJ observed that “police were helpless.”

It had been four to five days since the matter was taken up but there was no development, he added.

A CCTV recording pertaining to Imran’s arrest was then played in the court, which showed him being taken away from the jail in a vehicle. The footage showed three vehicles parked outside the jail and leaving with Riaz in one of them.

While the footage was being played, the LHC CJ directed for the video to be paused and zoomed in so that Imran’s face and the vehicle’s number plate become clearly visible.

He further instructed to play another recording showing Imran leaving the premise.

The IG requested five minutes’ time to play the video, following which Imran’s counsel Azhar Siddique asked where was the recording from inside the jail.

“Imran Riaz can be seen clearly in that recording,” he said.

Later, the court sought another report on the progress on Imran’s recovery and adjourned the hearing till 10:30am on Saturday (tomorrow).

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