Punjab Inspector General (IG) Dr. Usman Anwar has assured the Lahore High Court (LHC) that the police are on the brink of delivering “good news” in the case of missing anchorperson Imran Riaz. The assurance came during a court hearing in response to a plea filed to locate the journalist. As a result of this promising update, the court has granted an extension until September 13 for the police to find Imran Riaz.
Imran Riaz’s disappearance dates back to his arrest at Sialkot airport on May 11, shortly after violent protests erupted across the country following the arrest of PTI Chairman Imran Khan on May 9. After his arrest, Imran Riaz was initially taken to the Cantt police station and later to Sialkot prison, but his whereabouts have remained unknown since then.
Imran Riaz was among several journalists who were detained following the May 9 protests. Subsequently, an FIR alleging Riaz’s abduction was filed with Sialkot Civil Lines police on May 16 by the anchorperson’s father, Muhammad Riaz. The FIR named “unidentified persons” and police officials, invoking Section 365 of the Pakistan Penal Code, which deals with kidnapping or abducting with the intent to confine a person secretly and wrongfully.
Muhammad Riaz, the journalist’s father, also filed a plea in the Lahore High Court seeking his son’s recovery. Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti of the LHC presided over the hearing and was informed by the Punjab IG of “positive progress” in the case. IG Anwar expressed confidence that they would be able to share “good news” within the next 10 to 15 days and requested more time from the court to locate Imran Riaz.
In response, Justice Bhatti emphasized the importance of seeing tangible progress and eventually granted the police an extension until September 13 to find Imran Riaz.
Additionally, the LHC requested the petitioner’s lawyer to arrange a meeting with the Punjab IG, directing the official to meet with Imran Riaz’s father and legal team at 5 pm on the same day.
The case has seen several previous hearings, with Imran Riaz’s father appealing for his son’s recovery during a tearful plea in the LHC on May 19. On May 22, the LHC chief justice had ordered the police to find and present the missing anchorperson.
Despite extensive efforts and investigations, Imran Riaz’s whereabouts have remained a mystery, with various government agencies denying involvement in his disappearance. The LHC has been closely monitoring the case, repeatedly setting deadlines for the police to locate the missing journalist.
In the latest development, IG Anwar mentioned that phone numbers associated with the case had been traced back to Afghanistan, indicating a potential lead.
Imran Riaz’s lawyer expressed their dwindling patience during a hearing on June 6, while the Punjab government assured the high court that efforts to locate the journalist were ongoing.
The Lahore High Court has remained committed to resolving the case and bringing Imran Riaz back to safety. The extension granted until September 13 holds promise for those eagerly awaiting news of his whereabouts.