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Reporter who obtained footage of Captain Safdar's arrest goes missing in Pakistan

ANI | Updated: Oct 24, 2020 18:26 IST

Karachi [Pakistan], October 24 (ANI): At a time when threats towards journalists are mounting in Pakistan, a senior reporter, Ali Imran Syed, went missing--he had gone to a bakery but did not return home on Friday evening, said Geo News.
The missing scribe was working as a senior reporter for Geo News. According to details, Ali Imran left home between 7pm to 8pm saying that he did not return home after hours despite telling the family that he would return in 30 minutes.
The journalist's wife said that his car was parked outside and he left his mobile phone at home. The family said that the police have been informed about the disppearance and a case has also been registered.
The police said that the scene would be thoroughly inspected and the CCTV will be obtained to probe further into the case. According to Geo News, the Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah directed Inspector General of Sindh Police Mushtaq Mahar to ensure the safety of the journalist.
"Such actions against journalists are intolerable... I want a progress report on Ali Imran every hour,"said Murad Ali Shah as quoted by Geo News.
Federal Information Minister Shibli Faraz said that the concerned federal agencies "have been directed to cooperate" with the Sindh government to ensure the recovery of the reporter.
"The Sindh government and police used all their resources for the recovery of Geo News reporter Ali Imran. In this regard, all concerned federal agencies have been directed to cooperate with the Sindh government. The protection of journalists is our responsibility," he wrote on Twitter (translated from Urdu).
"Federal Govt has taken notice of disappearance of journalist #AliImran Sec Int has spoken with IG Sindh for early recovery of the journalist and offered support/assistance of all federal agencies in this case and general safety of journalists in Sindh," said Advisor to Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior (Federal Minister Mirza Shahzad Akbar on Twitter.
Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari said that no one should disappear in a democracy and said that the country has 'strong laws including anti-terror laws'.
"No one should "disappear" in a democracy--we have strong laws, including anti-terror laws, to deal with those who are allegedly guilty of a crime. Arrest and charge," he tweeted.
Pakistan People's Party Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari called the disappearance of the journalist an attack on the "freedom of expression".
"The process of suppressing voices must stop now," said the PPP chairman in a statement quoted by Geo News and added that such incidents involving journalists create a negative image of Pakistan globally.
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) condemned the disappearance of the journalist. The PFUJ president Shahzad Zulfiqar and General Secretary Nasir Zaidi appealed to the IG Sindh to release the CCTV footage of the incident, Geo News reported further. They also observed that the state was trying to suppress the press by 'creating panic among journalists'.
Senior journalist Nasim Zehra said that Ali Imran had obtained the CCTV video of PML-N leader Captain Safdar's arrest from a Karachi hotel. "Can't you question Ali Imran without kidnapping him?" she asked.
She also took to Twitter saying, "GeoReporter Ali Imran who released footage of Captain Safdar's arrest by SindPolice/Rangers, has disappeared-can't u (you) qn (question) Ali Imran without kidnapping him? Will kidnapping help 2 'reconstruct' widely known facts? Never. #BringBackAliImran.'
Editor-in-Chief for the Dunya Media Group, Kamran Khan said that the disappearance of the reporter "is a matter of extreme concern and shock."
"Disappearance of Syed Ali Imran an outstanding and very hardworking Geo News reporter is a matter of extreme concern and shock. The police should recover him without further delay and the Sindh Govt must break its silence on this horrific incident," he tweeted.
The Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors (AEMEND) condemned the incident and said, "We demand the provincial and federal governments and all law enforcement and security agencies to make efforts and ensure a safe return of Ali to his family and journalist fraternity," said the group in a statement as quoted by Geo News.
Pakistan has witnessed a severe rise in threats and crimes against journalists and human rights activists in the country to which the United Nations Human Rights Council has also expressed concern on the instances of disappearances.
"We have followed with increasing concern numerous instances of incitement to violence - online and offline - against journalists and human rights defenders in Pakistan, in particular against women and minorities. Especially worrying are accusations of blasphemy - which can put accused individuals at imminent risk of violence," said a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Rupert Colville in a briefing in September.
In July, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a Paris-based non-profit organisation, has warned Pakistani authorities from targeting the country's journalists based abroad and if anything happens to them or their families, the authorities will be held responsible.
Pakistan is ranked 145th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index, three places lower than in 2019. (ANI)