Anchorperson Aftab Iqbal released, Imran Riaz to be presented in court

Suspending the ‘detention notification’ of renowned anchorperson Aftab Iqbal, the chief justice of the Lahore High Court on Friday directed concerned authorities to effect his immediate release.

Meanwhile, Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti ordered the Inspector General of Prisons to present journalist Imran Riaz Khan by 6:00 PM in court today.

The journalists, who are both staunch and vocal supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and his policies, were arrested by the police on Thursday.

The government had swung into action and started a crackdown against the PTI supporters after the arrest of former premier Imran Khan from the premises of the Islamabad High Court on May 9.

Imran Riaz Khan was reportedly arrested at Sialkot Airport for allegedly inciting violence during clashes between security forces and PTI supporters, while anchor and television host Aftab Iqbal was detained from his Lahore farmhouse the same day.

The Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) had condemned the arrest of the two anchorpersons, noting that attempts to curb the freedom of expression cannot be tolerated and demanding the immediate release of the journalists.

LHC Chief Justice Bhatti was presiding over two petitions challenging the unlawful detention of the two journalists. The petitions requested that the detainees be presented before the court following their recovery from the unlawful police custody.

As proceedings got underway, anchorperson Aftab Iqbal was presented before the court. Chief Justice Bhatti questioned the legal basis for detaining the journalist.

The law officer responded that the deputy commissioner, considering the current law and order situation, had ordered his custody under Section 3MPO. The officer argued that the deputy commissioner possessed the authority to detain someone under the mentioned section.

Chief Justice Bhatti enquired about Aftab Iqbal’s health, to which he responded affirmatively.

Nonetheless, suspending the detention notification, the Chief Justice ordered the release of Aftab Iqbal. He also sought replies from the relevant authorities by the next hearing date.

In response to another court query concerning Imran Riaz, Inspector General Police (IGP) Punjab Dr Usman Anwar informed the court that the journalist had also been detained under Section 3MPO and had since been released from jail. The deputy commissioner had issued directions to release Imran Riaz Khan after he assured that he would not act against the Constitution.

Upon hearing this, Chief Justice Bhatti ordered the Inspector General of Prisons to present Imran Riaz Khan by 6:00 PM in court today.

Source: The Express Tribune

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