Syed Mohammed Askari, a senior reporter for Daily Jang, has returned home a day after he went missing in Karachi, his colleague said on Monday.
Askari had gone missing late on Saturday night after attending a wedding. His colleagues and media organisations had alleged that he was “abducted by policemen and plain-clothes men” for unspecified reasons.
After his return, Askari told Dawn.com that he was “blindfolded and my abductors asked me certain questions about my profession”.
Later, he said they told him they were “releasing” him as he had “cooperated” with them.
He said he was dropped at Sohrab Goth at around 2:30am on Monday from where he reached his home safely in North Nazimabad.
The senior reporter said “my and my companion’s cell phones and cash were not returned”.
He also appreciated the role of media organisations in raising their voice over his disappearance.
Earlier, fellow Daily Jang reporter Saqib Sagheer had also confirmed to Dawn.com that Askari had “returned”. Sagheer said Askari had phoned him at 3am and said that he had reached home safely.
Arab News Journalist Naimat Khan, meanwhile, also quoted Askari’s family as saying that the reporter had reached home.
Askari goes missing
Daily Jang News Editor Ali Kamran told Dawn.com that Askari was returning home along with another person after attending a marriage ceremony in the Mehmoodabad area, when his car was intercepted by a police van and another white vehicle near Baloch Colony at around 12:15am.
Kamran said that the teenager accompanying Askari was not taken away but his mobile phone was. The teenager then narrated the entire incident to Kamran, who then contacted top police officials, the editor said.
Kamran added that Askari had introduced himself to the unidentified men but the “policemen allegedly misbehaved with him, pushed him to the ground and then forcibly took him away”.
Stating that the police visited the spot, Kamran said he was with the reporter’s family at their home, who were unaware of why Askari had been taken away by the police.
Questioned about the matter during a press conference in Karachi, Sindh Information Minister Sharjeel Memon said he had discussed the incident with the additional inspector general of police and Jang’s administration.
“[We] are searching and as soon as a clue is found, it will be informed where [the journalist] is and who picked him up.”
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan also condemned the “abduction” and demanded his immediate release.
“That journalists continue to be abducted in this manner, without charge, calls into question not only the state’s commitment to democracy but also its capacity to brook criticism and opposition,” it said.