From Abid Usman
LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) gave Inspector General Police (IGP) Punjab Dr Usman Anwar a final opportunity to produce journalist Imran Riaz Khan before the court by September 26.
Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti heard a plea filed by Imran’s father, seeking recovery of his son, who, according to him, has been missing for several months.
As the proceedings began, CJ Bhatti asked IGP Usman about the progress in the matter and the whereabouts of the detainee. The IGP, in reply, requested the court for an extension to make progress in the case. The province’s top cop explained that a working group was established in response to the court’s order, and a meeting with the intelligence chief is scheduled for this Friday. CJ Bhatti remarked that such delays are a “mere waste of time”. “It appears that my patience is being tested. If this case is not making progress, should we consider other options?”
The petitioner’s counsel, Ali Mian Ashfaq, requested the court to grant the IGP an additional 24 hours. In response, the judge remarked that he couldn’t proceed with the case without their input, but if they thought it was appropriate, there was little he could do.
The judge scheduled the next hearing for September 26, granting IGP Usman a ‘final opportunity’ to produce the missing journalist.
In previous proceedings, the IGP had met with the petitioner and updated him and his counsel about the developments in the case. He claimed that the situation regarding Imran was improving. At that time, the petitioner’s counsel informed the court that significant developments might occur in this case in the near future.
The anchor person, a staunch and vocal supporter of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and his policies, was arrested by the police on May 11 from Sialkot Airport.
The government had swung into action and initiated a crackdown against PTI supporters after the former premier’s arrest from the premises of the Islamabad High Court on May 9 sparked widespread protests and rioting.
The anchor was arrested for allegedly inciting violence during clashes between security forces and PTI supporters.
On May 12, the LHC ordered the IG prisons to present the journalist in court on the same day. The IG, however, told the court that the jail authorities had already released Khan. Imran has not been recovered yet.