Senior journalist and columnist Waris Raza, who was reportedly abducted from his house in Karachi late on Tuesday night, was released on Wednesday evening, confirmed family and colleagues.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Raza's daughter Laila said that four vehicles arrived at their residence between 2:30 to 3:00 in the morning and asked for her father.
"First they took my father's wallet and mobile and confirmed his identity. They later took him with them," she said.
Laila said that Waris called them between 3:30 and 4am and told them that he was being taken for "interrogation". "I asked him where he was being taken, to which he replied probably to Saddar," she said and added that they could not make any contact with her father after that.
She said that she took the matter to social media and contacted many journalist bodies. "Journalists belonging to different media outlets helped us immensely and I am so thankful to them."
Laila further said that her father called them at around 5:30pm today saying that he's been dropped off at Mobina Town police station. He later returned home, she added.
Also read: IHC seeks report on missing journalist
Earlier, in her tweet, Laila had said that the senior journalist was 'abducted' as "they want to suppress all progressive voices" and her father had done nothing wrong.
My father, senior journalist Waris Raza, has been released. He is doing ok. Thank you all for your prompt action and well wishes. Highly indebted. 🙏🏽— Laila Raza (@LylaRaza) September 22, 2021
Condemnations over the alleged human rights violation, demands for his release and calls for protest came from all corners including journalists, civil society members, human rights groups and political workers.
Waris has served for over 30 years in print and electronic media and had reportedly been associated with ARY and Urdu daily Express, among other media organisations. He had recently published a book on the history of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists’ (PFUJ) struggle for press freedom in the country.
The PFUJ and the Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) condemned the alleged abduction and demanded his immediate release, with the former calling for country-wide protests. A similar statement, endorsed by senior journalists, lawyers, educationists, the Awami Workers Party, Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, Progressive Students Federation, gender and labour rights’ groups besides political workers, was issued by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and the Joint Action Committee, condemning the alleged abduction and demanding Raza’s swift release.
By Wednesday evening, Raza’s colleagues and the family confirmed that he had returned home. “Senior Journalist Waris Raza who was picked up in the early hours of Wednesday and freed after nearly 10 hours detention thanks all those who have expressed solidarity with him [sic],” tweeted veteran journalist Mazhar Abbas at around 6pm. “I am fine and thankful to all those who raised voice for me,” Abbas quoted Raza as saying.
Senior Journalist Waris Raza who was picked up in the early hours of Wednesday and freed after nearly 10 hours detention thanks all those who have expressed solidarity with him." I am fine and thankful to all those who raised voice for me."— Mazhar Abbas (@MazharAbbasGEO) September 22, 2021
Senior journalist Hamid Mir also expressed his concerns over the incident.
A senior journalist Waris Raza who compiled a book recently about the 70 years struggle of @OfficialPfuj for the Press Freedom in Pakistan, arrested from his home in Karachi last night.I stand by @OfficialKUJ and strongly condemn the arrest of Waris Raza @RSF_inter @pressfreedom https://t.co/QMQt7yA9Ok— Hamid Mir (@HamidMirPAK) September 22, 2021
Karachi Union of Journalists also condemned the incident on its Twitter handle.
سینئر صحافی کراچی پریس کلب اور @OfficialKUJ کے رکن @OfficialPfuj کی 70 سالہ تاریخی جدوجہد کو بطور مدیر کتابی شکل دینے والے وارث رضا کو رات گئے گھر سے حراست میں لے لیا گیا نامعلوم مقام پر منتقل،کے یو جے کی مذمت فوری رہائی کا مطالبہ @HamidMirPAK @MazharAbbasGEO @geofahmigeo pic.twitter.com/7aI0rC7VIh— Karachi Union of Journalists (@OfficialKUJ) September 22, 2021
Former Senator and PPP member Farhatullah Babar termed the abduction "deeply disconcerting".
Deeply disconcerting. Demand safe return immediately. Produce before court if any wrongdoing alleged. Such abduction allegedly by law enforcing agencies is state terrorism. #ReleaseWarisRaza@HRCP87 @hrw @amnestysasia https://t.co/KScg4l2KZX— Farhatullah Babar (@FarhatullahB) September 22, 2021
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