Senior journalist and anchorperson Imran Riaz Khan’s arrest has caused a storm in Pakistan. Members of civil society, including politicians, have condemned the arrest while lambasting the incumbent government for suppressing freedom of speech.
Late Tuesday, journalist Imran Riaz Khan was arrested near the outskirts of Islamabad in connection with a “treason” case registered against him in Attock. Pertinent to mention, the Punjab police arrested Imran Khan disregarding the fact that a court has already granted him a pre-arrest bail.
Imran Riaz Khan had reached the Islamabad toll plaza when over a dozen policemen of Punjab Police surrounded his car. Journalist Imran Riaz also made a video from his car, urging the journalistic community to raise their voice and continue their duties.
“It makes no difference whether they imprison me or kill me or whatever they do… I think we should continue performing our duties… I am requesting all journalists to raise your voice and keep doing your jobs,” Imran Riaz said before the arrest.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely—shame on you, Brigadier Rashid. You rig elections, backstab Pakistan, raid homes without a warrant, and harass women and children. You're a disgrace to the armed forces of Pakistan.#IStandWithImranRiazKhan @ImranKhanPTI @ImranRiazKhan pic.twitter.com/toUKGdWwAU
— Humaira (@HumairaWajahat) July 5, 2022
Pakistan in anger
Important to note that Imran Riaz Khan has been extremely critical of the incumbent government. In many of his vlogs, he has been “exposing” the government and lashing out at the state institutions as well. His popularity has increased as he seems to be voicing the wider public sentiment against the government.
Since then, Imran Riaz Khan has been implicated in a slew of cases that he says were motivated by his refusal to “stop speaking the truth”. Also, the Punjab police have been active against him for quite some time.
This is being considered by the public as a fascist move by the PML-N led government to suppress freedom of speech and take strict action against anyone being critical. Therefore, the public is raising a storm on social media, condemning the attack.
“So FIR registered, against TV Anchor/Journalist, Imran Riaz, in Attock on 29th June, but not even disclosed to IGP Punjab and Lahore High Court was a “concealed FIR” – hidden from law process to be used at the right time; Is this legal? Who runs Punjab police if not IGP Punjab?” asked senior journalist Dr. Moeed Pirzada.
So FIR registered, against TV Anchor/Journalist, Imran Riaz, in Attock on 29th June, but not even disclosed to IGP Punjab & Lahore High Court was a "Concealed FIR" – hidden from law process to be used at the right time; Is this legal? Who runs Punjab Police if not IGP Punjab? https://t.co/20XIt6CbNl
— Moeed Pirzada (@MoeedNj) July 6, 2022
“With Sinking approval rating Shahbaz Govt is in a state of panic. The onslaught against freedom of speech continues with the arrest of Imran Riaz Khan tonight just a few days after an attack on Ayaz Amir sahab also in Islamabad. The capital now most dangerous territory for critics of the government,” senior journalist Kamran Khan tweeted.
With sinking approval rating Shahbaz Govt is in a state of Panic. Onslaught against freedom of speech continues with arrest of Imran Riaz Khan tonight just a few days after an attack on Ayaz Amir Sb also in Islamabad. The capital now most dangerous territory for critics of Govt pic.twitter.com/s88livGnTQ
— Kamran Khan (@AajKamranKhan) July 5, 2022
Apart from the journalistic community, the majority of the public has also condemned the arrest. Multiple Twitter trends have been running in support of Imran Riaz Khan.