October 28, 2020
Ali Imran Syed, a reporter for Geo News, was reported missing in Karachi on October 23 after a suspected abduction. He was found safe after 22 hours. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its affiliate the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) condemn the abduction and call for a swift investigation.
Syed left his residence between 7pm-8pm on the evening of October 23, telling his wife he would return in half an hour. After he failed to return home, his brother filed a first information report (FIR) at Sachal Police Station, registering it as an abduction case without identifying suspects. The reporter established contact with his wife 22 hours later, after safely reaching his mother’s residence in Karachi, and was not physically harmed.
Geo bureau chief in Karachi, Fahim Siddiqi said Syed’s abduction may have been related to his recent coverage of political events. Syed is credited with obtaining surveillance footage from a Karachi hotel, showing the detainment of Capt. Safdar Awan, a vice-president of the Pakistan Muslim League. The 46-minute operation to capture Awan followed his criticism of the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government at an opposition rally.
Government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab said the matter was being investigated, and Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had already spoken to the province’s top police official. Shireen Mazari, Federal Minister for Human Rights, stated on social media that “no one should ‘disappear’ in a democracy”, with the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and journalist unions calling for action.
Syed is the second journalist to be abducted since July. Prominent journalist Matiullah Jan was abducted for 12 hours in Islamabad on July 21.
The PFUJ said: “Working journalists have to face tremendous problems and even intimidation. The PFUJ demands the government ensure that such incidents of abduction and intimidation must not be repeated.”
The IFJ said: “The abduction of journalists is a means to silence and intimidate the media from reporting on critical or divisive political issues and should be strongly condemned. The government of Pakistan must end the rampant impunity for crimes against journalists and ensure the perpetrators of this abduction are identified and brought to justice.”—IFJ media release
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