Whisked away without consequence

It’s been more than ten days since television anchor and political YouTuber Imran Riaz Khan has been arrested and his whereabouts are unknown. An exasperated Lahore High Court, following up on lapsed deadlines on the matter, asked the Punjab police chief himself about the matter, only to be informed by the latter that the anchor isn’t in any police facility, not just in the Punjab, but anywhere else in the country.

Those following such matters in our unfortunate republic know how to put two and two together. We can surmise where he will be, specially given the current political climate and his personal political leanings.

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This is also a litmus test for those citizens of the country that are opposed to Imran Riaz’s views. They are well within their rights to disagree with the man; they are well within their rights to not even think of him as a journalist, but a polemicist, and a base one at that. But he is still a public commentator and, what is much more important than that, he is a citizen of our country. What makes matters even more complicated is that, were the shoe on the other foot (and it was, till very recently) he himself would have endorsed someone being picked up and kept under detention indefinitely. In fact, past videos of him saying the exact same thing are circulating social media as you read this.

That, we know, is a very big ask. But the fact of the matter is that citizens good and bad both have rights. Even those opposed to civil rights have those very same civil rights.

Imran Riaz Khan’s case serves as a deterrent. It strikes fear in the hearts and minds of citizens throughout the country. If Pakistan’s biggest political YouTuber can be whisked away without consequences, what hope does the humble Baloch blogger documenting local injustices have?

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].


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