While the hours-long abduction of columnist Gul Bukhari sparked concerns within the country, it also concerned British officials who called for her safe recovery.
Bukhari was on her way to appear in a Waqt News TV show when unidentified persons intercepted her vehicle near Sherpao Bridge in Cantonment area. She was subsequently shifted to an undisclosed location and reportedly kept there for hours before being released.
“Deeply concerned by reports of the abduction of British-Pakistani journalist Gul Bukhari in Lahore, Pakistan, last night. Relieved that she has now been released,” British minister Mark Field wrote in a twitter post on Wednesday.
“The UK strongly supports freedom of expression which is a cornerstone of democracy,” he added.
Earlier during the day, British High Commission in Islamabad also expressed concerns on the columnist’s abduction and said it was reaching out with consular assistance.
Bukhari, known for her critical views against non-democratic forces, is a contributing writer at The Nation newspaper.
Concerns about freedom of expression and press censorship have grown in the country as journalists continue to face challenges including physical assault, threats, illegal detention, arrest and at times murder.
In its Press Freedom Index 2018, media freedom watchdog, Reporters Reporters Without Borders ranked Pakistan at 139 among 180 countries, showing no improvement in comparison to 2017.