A Pakistani government official, who is suspected to have helped journalists in writing a story about the rise to riches of a top general and key aide to Prime Minister Imran Khan, has returned home after unknown abductors freed him on the outskirts of Islamabad, officials and the man said.
Sajid Gondal, a joint director at Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, returned home on Tuesday evening, five days after he went missing.
According to his colleagues, Gondal, a former reporter with Dawn newspaper, was investigating Lt Gen (retd Saleem Bajwa, the chairman of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority and information aide to Prime Minister Khan.
Bajwa resigned last week as special assistant to the prime minister on information and broadcasting, but Khan rejected the resignation. Bajwa’s move came after a report alleged that he had used his offices to help his family set up several offshore businesses.
Bajwa, who also served as Commander of the Southern Command, rejected the allegations, and said he would continue to head CPEC Authority.
It was unclear who held Gondal for five days, though his family and friends speculated he was in the custody of one of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies, which work largely outside the control of the government.
“I am back and safe, and I am thankful to all friends who were worried for me,” tweeted Gondal, who had gone missing while visiting a family-owned farm. His car was found abandoned on a road on the outskirts of Islamabad.
Gondal was freed after his relatives rallied in Islamabad amid growing pressure on social media for his release.
On Saturday, the Islamabad High Court had ordered authorities to trace Gondal by Monday, while hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by his mother Asmat Bibi.
The court also forwarded a copy of the order to the cabinet division secretary. “The abduction of a citizen from the federal capital is extremely alarming,” Chief Justice Athar Minallah remarked.
Federal information and broadcasting minister Shibli Faraz said Prime Minister Imran Khan was concerned about Gondal’s abduction in Islamabad.
(With inputs from Agencies