Pak Journalist Matiullah Jan Freed; Top Court Expresses Alarm Over Abduction
A top Pakistani court on Wednesday expressed alarm at the abduction of a prominent journalist Matiullah Jan, who was later freed, noting that kidnappers wore police uniforms and wanted to "scare" other people too.
The Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard the habeas corpus petition against Jan's abduction filed by his family on Tuesday.
The court took prompt action and ordered Secretary Interior, Commissioner, Islamabad and Inspector General, Islamabad to produce the journalist on Wednesday or personally appear before the court.
Jan, who is highly critical of the government and the security institutions of the country, was freed on Tuesday, hours after he was abducted by plainclothes and uniformed personnel in the national capital.
Chief Justice Minallah noted that CCTV footage showed that some kidnappers were in police uniforms.
"Someone has the nerve to do such a thing in police uniforms. What impression will the public get that people are roaming around freely in police uniforms," he said.
He further said the vehicle used in the incident had police headlights and the kidnappers wanted to scare other people also.
When Islamabad Police Deputy Inspector General for Operations Waqar ud Din told the court that an FIR was registered, the Chief Justice said it was a test case for police.
If there is no rule of law, there will be nothing here except chaos, Justice Minallah said and wrapped up the case.
Earlier, he refused to monitor the follow up by police by saying that the police should do its duty to investigate the incident and take action.
Jan's brother Shahid Abbasi said the journalist was preparing to appear in the Supreme Court on Wednesday where he was facing contempt of court proceedings for an allegedly controversial tweet.
Abbasi told the media that he received a call from an unknown number to pick him up from a place in Fateh Jang area of Attock district Punjab province, which is not very far from Islamabad.
"I am back home safe & sound. God has been kind to me & my family. I am grateful to friends, national & int. journalist community, political parties, social media & rights activists, lawyers bodies, the judiciary for their quick response which made it possible," Jan tweeted on Wednesday.
Abbasi said the captors blindfolded Jan after abducting him on Tuesday and kept him in the car for most of the time he was in their captivity.
No one has claimed responsibility for the abduction but a video revealed that about half a dozen men in plain clothes and uniform forced him to come out of his car and forcibly put him in a vehicle in the G-6 area of the capital.
The abduction created an outrage in the country as the media, right groups, politicians and diplomatic community joined to demand his safe release.
Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari demanded that the government ensure his safe return soon. The matter was also taken up in the Pakistan National Assembly where opposition parties and the journalists covering the proceedings staged a walkout from the house.
Vienna-based International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom, expressed outrage over Jan's abduction, the Dawn newspaper reported.
Canada's High Commissioner to Pakistan Wendy Gilmour tweeted, very worrying development: the role of the media in a democracy is crucial, and must be protected. I trust that @Matiullahjan919 will be soon safely reunited with his family.