Missing anchorperson

Published September 19, 2023

TV PERSONALITY Imran Riaz remains missing, his whereabouts unknown. The prominent anchorperson — followed by millions on YouTube — was arrested on May 11 by Punjab police under the Maintenance of Public Order rules. The police say they released him when the detention order against Mr Riaz was withdrawn, but that he was ‘abducted’ by unidentified persons shortly thereafter.

Mr Riaz’s family, on the other hand, believes the police were complicit in the anchor’s kidnapping, and it is commonly believed that he is in the custody of powerful forces within the state. Since officially, the state has disavowed any responsibility for Mr Riaz, there has been no information about the conditions he has been kept in, whether he is healthy and in good physical condition, or whether he is even alive.

Indeed, his case now seems doomed to becoming a footnote in the long list of excesses perpetrated by the state to keep dissident voices in check. To render someone ‘missing’ is perhaps the worst cruelty a state can perpetrate. It condemns entire families to an unending nightmare of not knowing where their loved ones are, and in what state. Pakistan has been one of the worst offenders on this count.

Mr Riaz is not, after all, the only Pakistani whose whereabouts are currently unknown. However, that does not make his case any less condemnable. A petition seeking his recovery is slated to be taken up again by the Lahore High Court this week.

In the last hearing, the Punjab IG had assured the court that the police investigation was “going in the right direction”. A week earlier, he had assured the court that there was “positive progress” in the case. It is disappointing that the Punjab IG has been allowed to get away with these empty excuses for so long.

Every day this case is prolonged is an injustice to Mr Riaz and his worried family. The court must now ensure results.

Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2023

Opinion

Editorial

Miles to go
Updated 14 Jul, 2024

Miles to go

Some reforms agreed with the Fund are going to seriously impact economic growth and fresh investments, at least in the short term.
Iddat ruling
14 Jul, 2024

Iddat ruling

IT was a needless, despicable spectacle which only ended up uniting both conservatives and progressives in ...
Cricket shake-up
14 Jul, 2024

Cricket shake-up

SOMEONE had to take the blame and bear the brunt of the fallout from Pakistan’s disastrous showing at the T20 ...
Injustice undone
Updated 13 Jul, 2024

Injustice undone

The SC verdict is a stunning reversal of fortunes for a party that was, both before and after general elections, being treated as a defunct entity.
Looming flour shortage
13 Jul, 2024

Looming flour shortage

FOR once, it is hard to argue against the reason that compelled flour mills to call a nationwide strike from...
Same old script
13 Jul, 2024

Same old script

WHEN it comes to the troubling issue of enforced disappearances/ missing persons — either Baloch or belonging to...