Bar Council welcomes London-based barrister’s release from detention in Pakistan

Abdullah Mumtaz Kahloon is standing as an opposition candidate in next month’s general election
Headshot of Bar Council chair Sam Townend

Bar Council chair Sam Townend KC

A London-based barrister has resurfaced safe and well after his disappearance last week on arriving in Pakistan to stand in the general election sparked accusations he had been unlawfully detained by the authorities.

Concerns for the safety of Abdullah Mumtaz Kahloon, a tenant at London’s Legis Chambers, were raised by UK colleagues when he disappeared shortly after his arrival at Islamabad airport last week to stand for jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s opposition PTI party in next month’s general election. 

A petition circulated on LinkedIn, which was backed by general counsel, solicitors and academics, had asked the Bar Council to issue “a public statement of concern… calling for those holding him unlawfully to disclose his whereabouts and condition and respect his human rights”.

However, on Tuesday (16 January), Kahloon posted on X that he was “back now” having “secured pre-arrest bail today in a politically motivated case against me at the Sessions Court [in] Sargodha”.

He added: “A special thanks to all of my family, friends and well-wishers in Pakistan and abroad for their prayers, kind thoughts and messages of support.”

Welcoming the news, Sam Townend KC, chair of the Bar Council of England and Wales, said: “We are pleased to hear that London-based barrister Abdullah Mumtaz Kahloon has now been released from detention in Pakistan. We have been in contact with his chambers and colleagues to offer advice and support.” 

Kahloon’s plight had sparked an outcry from friends and colleagues. The petition was signed by many lawyers who had studied with him at Cardiff University, where he was president of the law society.

English-language Pakistani newspaper The News International reported on 10 January that the Chief Justice of the High Court of Islamabad, Aamer Farooq, had “reprimanded” the authorities and ordered them to produce Kahloon after he had failed to appear at a protective bail hearing. 

Additional Attorney General Munawar Iqbal Duggal had claimed Kahloon could be seen on CCTV cameras leaving the airport for “an unknown location with three to four persons without resisting them”, The News International reported. 

Kahloon was reported to have subsequently appeared in a video on social media saying he was “staying with a friend” and disassociating himself from the PTI.

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