Pakistani journalist, supporter of former PM Imran Khan missing, second in 2 weeks

ISLAMABAD — A prominent Pakistani television journalist known for his public support of former Prime Minister Imran Khan has disappeared, police, his family and his employer have said.

Sami Abrahim’s disappearance was first announced in a police tweet on Wednesday evening, hours after his disappearance. His family and Karachi-based independent television BOL, where Abrahim works, claimed on Thursday that he had been abducted.

Abrahim has long publicly opposed the government of Khan’s successor, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif. Khan, a former cricket star turned Islamist politician, was in office from 2018-22 and was ousted in a no-confidence vote in parliament last year.

In a press release, BOL TV said Abrahim was abducted by unidentified men on Wednesday. Abrahim’s brother, Ali Raza, filed a police complaint saying eight people in four vehicles intercepted his brother’s car on his way home from work in the capital, Islamabad, and took him away. His driver is unharmed.

The police tweet promised they would do their best to track down the well-known TV reporter.

Abrahim’s disappearance comes two weeks after the disappearance of another pro-Khan television journalist, Imran Riaz. Pakistani police denied having detained him.

Reporters Without Borders – the international media watchdog also known by its French acronym RSF – expressed concern for Riaz’s safety on Tuesday. In a statement, he urged the Pakistani government “to ensure respect for the rule of law by immediately disclosing where and under what conditions he is being held”.

The Pakistani media community and journalists have also demanded accountability for those behind the October murder in Kenya of Arshad Sharif, a prominent Pakistani television presenter. The 50-year-old journalist was living in Kenya to avoid being arrested at home for slandering the powerful military. Kenyan police say officers opened fire on a car carrying Sharif as it drove through a checkpoint outside Nairobi instead of stopping.

Nairobi Police later expressed regret over the shooting, saying it was a case of ‘mistaken identity’ during a search for a similar car involved in a case of child abduction.

Earlier this month, Khan’s supporters clashed for days with police across Pakistan, attacking public property – including a radio station in the northwestern city of Peshawar – and military installations, angered by his arrest in a courtroom in Islamabad. The violence only subsided after Khan was released by order of the Supreme Court.

The Prime Minister visited the badly damaged Peshawar railway station on Thursday, promising in a speech to staff that all suspects linked to the recent violence would be prosecuted.

Khan has repeatedly accused Washington, the prime minister and the Pakistani military of being behind his ouster – accusations all three have denied – and waged an opposition campaign against the government, demanding an election anticipated.

Since the violent protests, the government has cracked down on Khan’s supporters, arresting more than 5,000 people and threatening to try them in military courts.

Also on Thursday, an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan gave the army the green light to try 16 suspects arrested in connection with the recent attack on the residence of a top army general in the eastern city of Lahore during the riots. Khan’s supporters. It was not known when the trial would begin.


Associated Press writer Babar Dogar in Lahore, Pakistan, contributed to this story.


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