In an emotional plea at the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday, the father of anchorperson Imran Riaz shed tears while pleading for mercy as his son’s whereabouts remain unknown since his arrest on May 11 at Sialkot airport. Imran was among those taken into custody following protests that erupted after the arrest of PTI Chairman Imran Khan.
Imran’s lawyer informed Dawn.com that a writ petition was filed on May 12 regarding the anchorperson’s arrest, and the LHC directed the attorney general to present him before the court on the same day. However, as the orders were not followed, the Sialkot police were given a 48-hour deadline on Monday to locate Riaz.
The anchorperson’s father, Muhammad Riaz, lodged a First Information Report (FIR) at Civil Lines police station, accusing “unidentified persons” and police officials of allegedly kidnapping his son under Section 365 (kidnapping or abducting with intent to secretly and wrongfully confine a person) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
During the latest hearing on Thursday, the LHC ordered Punjab Inspector General (IG) Dr Usman Anwar to provide an update on Imran’s recovery progress by 12 pm on the following day.
A heartfelt plea from a father Muhammad Riaz, father of anchorperson Imran Riaz, outside the Lahore High Court on Friday. — Photo by author
During the hearing, Muhammad Riaz passionately presented his case to LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti, appealing, “For God’s sake, have some mercy on your country. Don’t play with the law.”
“It is crystal clear. Everyone in this court is aware… They all know who handed [him] over,” he added without mentioning any names.
“This is the truth; this is the government of Pakistan, where people go missing.”
Muhammad continued, “Have mercy, have mercy. His (Imran Riaz’s) crime was speaking the truth. Kill [him] once, so that our restlessness ends. I am the father who taught [him] to speak the truth. Feel my pain.”
IG’s briefing to the court During the hearing, the IG briefed the court on the progress made, stating that they had conducted meetings with relevant agencies and formed a working group, which also held a meeting.
Presenting a chart, the IG informed the court that geofencing was initially carried out at Sialkot airport. He further mentioned that the police had acquired 50 CCTV footage recordings, which would take three to four days to review thoroughly.
Assuring the court of their utmost efforts, the IG stated that the police were utilizing all available resources to locate Imran Riaz. However, he added that “if an individual is hiding of their own will, then we don’t have anything to say.”
While the IG was giving his briefing, the LHC CJ observed that “police were helpless.” Despite four to five days passing since the matter was taken up, there had been no significant progress.
CCTV footage played in court During the proceedings, CCTV footage of Imran’s arrest was played in court, revealing him being taken away from jail in a vehicle. The footage showed three vehicles parked outside the jail, with Riaz seen entering one of them.
As the footage played, the LHC CJ directed to pause and zoom in on the video, ensuring a clear view of Imran’s face and the vehicle’s number plate. The CJ further instructed to play another recording showing Imran leaving the premises. The IG requested five minutes to present the video, while Imran’s counsel, Azhar Siddique, questioned.