September 22nd, 2021
Senior journalist and Karachi Press Club (KPC) member Waris Raza was abducted from his home in the wee hours of Wednesday, September 22, with no information as to his whereabouts even after the passage of 12 hours.
Raza’s daughter Laila told Voicepk.net that her father was picked up by Sindh Rangers who arrived at their doorstep in official vehicles.
“My father was sitting in a street near our house with his friends. It was around 2:30 AM when few Rangers officials arrived in a Corolla and two Rangers’ vehicles. Some officials were in uniform while three people were in plain clothes,” Laila recounted the events leading up to Raza’s disappearance.
She narrated that after initial inquiry from her father, the officials ordered him to hand over his wallet and mobile to them.
“Then they asked my father to get dressed as they had to take him in for interrogation. At this point, my sister intervened and asked the officials why they were taking him with them, to which they replied that he (Raza) will be back home within five minutes.”
It has been over 12 hours since, and the Sindh Rangers have yet to inform the family of his whereabouts, not have they issued any official statement regarding Raza’s arrest
Raza is a progressive journalist fiercely critical of Pakistan’s powerful military establishment for their interference in civilian affairs. In his last column published in the Daily Express on September 21, Raza raised questions about the issuance of Presidential ordinances and referred to them as anti-democratic steps being taken on the behest of ‘hidden hands’.
According to Laila, Raza was repeatedly getting threatening calls and messages, warning him to stop openly criticizing state institutions prior to his disappearance.
“He was a critic of this current hybrid regime, and I think the reason why he was picked up is that no one is allowed to talk about this hybrid setup. This is an illegal detention and he should be released immediately,” Laila said.
The Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ) has contacted senior government officials including the Sindh Governor Imran Ismail and DG Rangers Major General Iftikhar Hassan, urging them for Raza’s safe and immediate release.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has sounded off the call for nationwide protests against Raza’s abduction.
Last year, a small contingent of Rangers and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) personnel reportedly abducted the Sindh Inspector General late at night, and forced him to arrest PML-N leader and Maryam Nawaz’s husband Captain Safdar for allegedly disrespecting Quaid-e-Azam’s tomb.
After an unprecedented reaction from the Sindh police and civil society activists, the Pakistan Army dismissed all officials involved for acting “overzealously”.