Imran Riaz Khan safely returns home – A Tale of Determination and Persistence

After more than four months of disappearance, despair, and uncertainty, Imran Riaz Khan safely returns home, bringing immense relief to his family and supporters. His safe return, which is a tale of determination and persistence for the family as well as for the freshly graduated journalists, has now been officially confirmed by Punjab Inspector General Dr. Usman Anwar. The news marks a significant turning point in a traumatic ordeal that had left his beloved family and fans in anguish. Imran’s journey from being missing to reuniting with his family is a testament to the determination and collaborative efforts of those involved.

Collaboration of Institutions and Confirmation of news.

This news initially was broken by the police X (formerly Twitter) handle, wherein it was elucidated that Imran Riaz Khan, famous YouTuber/Journalist has safely returned home to his family and loved ones. After a while, Sialkot District Police Officer Hassan Iqbal and Imran’s lawyer, Mian Ali Ashraf also confirmed the heartwarming news of Imran’s retrieval and safely reaching home. Imran’s lawyer, Mian Ali Ashfaq highlighted the shared effort of police officials appointed in the case as well as thanked the Lahore High Court for its stern directions in the case, compelling the state agencies to immediately locate and retrieve the journalist.

Imran Riaz Khan’s Arrest and Vanishing Act

Imran Riaz, a prominent Pakistani Political YouTuber/Journalist was detained by the Cantt Police Station, Sialkot shortly after the May 9 protests, ignited by the illegal arrest of Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Ahmad Khan Niazi from the Hon’ble High Court Islamabad premises, where he appeared to get bail in his court cases.  

He was last seen on the CCTV Cameras near Sialkot prison and immediately vanished afterward in thin air, leaving the family and fans in anguish. As soon as Imran Riaz Khan’s childhood friend, college mate, and his family lawyer Mian Ali Ashfaq filed a habeas corpus petition in the Lahore High Court for his retrieval, on May 15, 2023, a police officer informed the Lahore High Court that Imran was released from the police custody immediately and they don’t know about his whereabouts after his release.

Desperate Pleas before Lahore High Court.

Imran’s father, Muhammad Riaz, with the collaboration of Sialkot Civil Lines Police, registered an FIR against his abduction on May 16, 2023. In the FIR, Muhammad Riaz did not give any name but rather called the abductors “unidentified officials” under section 365 of the Pakistan Penal Code. In light of the instant FIR, a case was filed in the Lahore High Court for Imran Riaz’s retrieval.

At the court appearance, his father Muhammad Riaz, broke down in tears before the Hon’ble Court and stated that the investigation pertaining to his son’s retrieval is fruitless and directional. In response to the emotional plea of Muhammad Riaz, Hon’ble Lahore High Court ordered the police officials to retrieve the Anchorperson/YouTuber by May 22, 2023.

Punjab Inspector General Dr. Usman Anwar failed to produce Imran Riaz Khan on May 22, 2023, saying that no trace of Imran has been found yet across the country. The Lahore High Court directed the Ministries of Interior and Defence to fulfill their constitutional duties in locating the missing journalist.

Reports were sought from Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI), in which both agencies confirmed that Imran was not in their custody and unable to find his whereabouts. As the investigation progressed, phone numbers linked to Afghanistan were also identified in the case.

Read More: The Disappearance of Journalist Imran Riaz: A Cry for Justice

Promises, Deadlines, Commitments, and Progress

A sentence of impatience took root in Imran Riaz’s Legal Team with continued assurances by the Punjab Government while failing to locate Imran Riaz Khan. Mian Ali Ashfaq came out of the Courtroom all guns blazing at the performance of the law enforcement agencies on June 6, 2023. After the drama created by the Legal Team of Imran Riaz, Lahore High Court established a deadline of July 25 for the police to locate the missing journalist.

Retired Brigadier Falak Naz, from the Ministry of Defence, offered assurances to the court that comprehensive measures were underway to track locations and expedite Imran Riaz’s safe return to the family. Afterward, IG Punjab Dr. Usman Anwar promised the nation to give them “Good news” from the police in the coming days, leading to a brief extension of the timeline until September 13. Throughout this journey, the IG maintained confidence in the investigative direction, fostering a sense of anticipation among those closely following the case.

Final Ultimatum and Conclusion

After tons of promises and hopes rendered by the police department, Ministry of Defense, and law enforcement agencies, the Lahore High Court gave the final ultimatum on Sept 20, 2023 to produce Imran Riaz Khan by September 26, 2023, and adjourned the proceedings until that date. As soon as the final date crept around the corner, the police were finally able to locate his whereabouts and shared the news X (formerly Twitter) about his safe return home, ending legal battles and uncertainties.

Imran’s story is a testament to the perseverance of his family and legal team, who worked tirelessly to bring him home and compelled the state institutions to recover him from illegal and unlawful detentions. We are eagerly waiting for his new vlog in anticipation of whether he will be able to name the people behind his abduction or not.

Read more about: Upholding Fundamental Rights – The Imperative for Justice, Freedom and Democracy

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