Karachi: Senior journalist Waris Raza released hours after ‘abduction’

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A Pakistani journalist and columnist Waris Raza was released several hours after being abducted allegedly by the security forces from his house in Karachi on Wednesday.

Raza’s family has said that the journalist was detained by the law enforcement agencies in the early hours of Wednesday from his house in Karachi. He was kept in custody for a few hours before being released.

Raza’s daughter Laila Raza took to Twitter hours after his arrest to lament his disappearance. “It’s been ten hours now, my papa, senior journalist and columnist Waris Raza was abducted by law enforcement agencies last night, they want to suppress all progressive voices! My father has done nothing but speaks truth to powers that be!” she said.

With over 30 years of experience in news reporting and writing, Raza is counted among the top journalists of Karachi. He has also authored a book detailing the 70-year history of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists for the freedom of the press in the country.

The news of Raza’s disappearance spread like a wildfire on social media. Other prominent journalists, activists and his colleagues condemned the arrest and called for his safe release. Journalist Hamid Mir, who was recently taken off air for his anti-establishment views, said: “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.”

Senator Farhatullah Babar also called for the perpetrators to be apprehended and punished accordingly. “Another journalist Waris Raza reportedly kidnapped from his house in Karachi in wee hours Wednesday. Highly disturbing. Waris Raza must be safely recovered urgently & perpetrators named, shamed and prosecuted. Everyone must raise voice.”

Pakistan has been criticized for cracking down on journalists, writers and activists for being critical of the country’s “deep state” – a euphemism for Pakistan’s military establishment and the intelligence agencies. Soon after the attack on journalist and vlogger Asad Ali Toor in Islamabad earlier this year, Reporters without Borders (RSF), a Paris-based watchdog, said that military establishment “can not withstand independent journalism.” RSF also ranked Pakistan at 145 in its 2021 press freedom index.

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