Journalist and activist Gul Bukhari was abducted by unknown persons in Lahore on Tuesday night, police sources said. Early on Wednesday her family confirmed that she was home and “fine”.
According to sources, Bukhari was on her way to the Waqt TV studio on Fatimah Jinnah Road (Queen’s Road) for a show when she was intercepted and abducted on Sherpao Bridge in Lahore’s Cantonment area. Her family had reported her missing to the police.
Punjab police said Bukhari had not been detained by police personnel.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Maryam Nawaz took to Twitter moments after journalists posted about Bukhari’s disappearance and expressed her concern.
According to a journalist employed at Waqt TV, Bukhari was on her way to the studio to appear in a show when unknown persons stopped her vehicle and asked her to come out.
A vocal critic of the military, Bukhari is a journalist and activist who has worked in broadcast and print for several media groups in Pakistan. Bukhari is presently a contributing Op-Ed writer at The Nation and was set to appear as an analyst on Waqt TV show ‘2vs2’.
Concerns about freedom of expression and press censorship grow in the country in the run-up to election. In recent months, the Jang Group’s Geo TV was pushed off the airwaves across most of the country.
Last week, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said days before Pakistan’s caretaker government took over that his government did not believe in resorting to media censorship but urged the media to adopt a mechanism for self-regulation.
In April, a Reporters Without Borders report said the Pakistani media are regarded as among the most vibrant in Asia but due to pressure being exerted by extremist groups and intelligence agencies they are increasingly resorting to self-censorship, according to a report by a global watchdog.
As news of Bukhari’s disappearance made the rounds, journalists took to Twitter to express concerns about her safety.
Journalist attacked in Lahore
In a separate incident, broadcast journalist Asad Kharal was beaten by masked men in Lahore on Tuesday, police said.
SP Bilal Zaffar Cantonment Division confirmed the attack on Bol TV anchor Kharal, whose car was intercepted by masked men who physically assaulted him. Kharal was then taken to Services Hospital to be treated for his injuries.