Prominent Pakistani journalist Imran Riaz, once known for his vocal support of Pakistan’s military establishment, visited the Baloch missing persons’ camp along with his wife in Islamabad on Wednesday. He was there to express solidarity with the families of the victims and to apologize for previously dismissing their claims as false.
Riaz himself had disappeared for several months, allegedly at the hands of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies, due to his anti-state and anti-military remarks. During his visit, he assured the protest leader, Dr. Mahrang Baloch, that he would now lend his voice in support of the Baloch missing persons. In response, Dr. Mahrang stated, “We are forgiving people.”
In the past, Riaz trivialized the issue of enforced disappearances in Balochistan on his news show and his YouTube channel. He also criticized those who voiced support for the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement, a peaceful movement demanding rights for Pakistan’s Pashtun minority. He often referred to the Baloch missing persons as “traitors” who attacked the institutions of the country, stating that they “deserved to disappear.”
However, after experiencing disappearance himself, Riaz now claims to have a better understanding of the suffering endured by the families of victims of enforced disappearances, as well as the victims themselves.