Amnesty International urges recovery of missing social activist


LONDON: London-based international rights organisation Amnesty International, in a statement on Wednesday, has demanded that the Pakistani government take immediate action for the recovery of Lahore-based missing activist Raza Khan.

“The Pakistani authorities must take all measures as may be necessary to investigate Raza Khan’s fate immediately,” said South Asia Amnesty’s Deputy Director Dinushika Dissanayake.

“Scarcely does a week go by without Amnesty International receiving reports of people going missing in Pakistan,” Dissanayake said. “Many of them may have been subjected to enforced disappearances, which is a crime under international law.

“In October, Pakistan was elected to the UN Human Rights Council on a pledge to uphold universal human rights for all. But we’ve seen few effective attempts to investigate these disappearances and no one has ever been held accountable for them,” he added.

Raza had gone missing from his residence in Model Colony in Naseerabad on December 2.

A convener of Aghaz-i-Dosti, a friendship initiative between the youth of India and Pakistan, Raza had gone to his residence after a meeting with friends last Saturday.

On failing to find Raza, his brother Hamid Nasir had approached the police and lodged a kidnap complaint.

The incident has caused serious concern among Raza’s family members and friends, he said.

The complainant told the police that Raza was also associated with Lowkey Lokai, another community initiative aimed at holding dialogues and debates on the issues critical to building a peaceful society.

Raza had attended a meeting of the initiative on Saturday, Nasir said.

Naseerabad police have registered a case against the unidentified person(s) for kidnapping Raza.

Many prominent incidents of disappeared social activists have come to light recently, many of them highlighted on social media. Earlier this year, the news of five activists going missing had elicited a strong response from activists in Pakistan and abroad. While four of them were later returned, Syed Samar Abbas, president of the Civil Progressive Alliance Pakistan (CPAP), remains missing.

Prior to that, Zeenat Shahzadi, a young journalist who was pursuing the case of an Indian citizen, went missing in 2015. Driven to despair, her younger brother had committed suicide.

Although news of her return was confirmed by the former head of the commission of inquiry into enforced disappearances justice Javed Iqbal and her mother a few weeks ago, the whereabouts of Shahzadi and her family are not known since then.