Subscribe to Secularism is a Womens Issue

Secularism is a Women’s Issue

Home > fundamentalism / shrinking secular space > Pakistan: Missing bloggers reappear as mysteriously as they had (...)

Pakistan: Missing bloggers reappear as mysteriously as they had disappeared

Tuesday 7 February 2017, by siawi3


By Web Desk
January 28, 2017

Missing blogger, activist Salman Haider returns home

ISLAMABAD: According to police sources, activist and blogger Salman Haider reached home on Friday night.

According to police, Salman Haider, an activist and blogger who had gone missing from Isamabad a couple of days ago, returned home on Friday night. Police further disclosed that he was in normal condition.

Salman Haider had gone missing from Islamabad’s Bani Gala area, prompting protests and demands from civil society and other activists for his release. After he was found missing, two other bloggers Ahmad Waqass Goraya & Aasim Saeed also disappeared.

Salman had disappeared from Bani Gala earlier this month and his car was recovered by the police from Koral Chowk.

“A text message sent from Salman Haider’s phone to his wife said the car should be taken from Koral Chowk”, Geo News had reported.

An FIR of the incident had been lodged. Besides being a blogger and a human rights activist, he was also a professor at the Fatima Jinnah University.



Second missing Pakistani blogger found, leaves country fearing for life: family

Saeed, who is Singapore-based and works in the IT department of the German Merck Group, disappeared on Jan. 4 while visiting the eastern city of Lahore.

By: Reuters | Islamabad

Published:January 29, 2017 4:25 pm

Saeed’s recovery comes a day after poet and activist Salman Haider, who disappeared from the capital Islamabad on Jan. 6, was recovered, according to his family.

Pakistani blogger Aasim Saeed who went missing earlier this month has been found but has quickly left the country fearing for his life, his family said on Sunday. Saeed’s father said his son was detained by “state agencies” while visiting Pakistan from Singapore, though he did not name which one. Pakistan’s government and Federal Investigation Agency have denied holding any of five liberal activists who went missing this month. The military and other state agencies have declined to officially comment. The army’s media wing did not reply to questions and phone calls on Sunday.

Saeed’s recovery comes a day after poet and activist Salman Haider, who disappeared from the capital Islamabad on Jan. 6, was recovered, according to his family. Five liberal activists, some of whom have posted blogs criticising the political influence of the military and speaking for the rights of religious minorities, had each gone missing separately since Jan. 4.

Saeed, who is Singapore-based and works in the IT department of the German Merck Group, disappeared on Jan. 4 while visiting the eastern city of Lahore. “It was no one other than the state agencies who took him,” Aasim Saeed’s father, Ghulam Haider, told Reuters, referring to Pakistan’s intelligence agencies. He said Saeed was picked up over a social media post intelligence agencies deemed “objectionable.”

“My son is not against any agency, he is not against the military or government and he is not against Islam,” Haider said. “The fact that he was set free means that he has been cleared of all charges.”

“The only instruction Aasim got from the agencies was that he could not give any media interviews,” Haider added.

The military’s media wing did not return calls or text messages seeking comment. Haider said Aasim returned to his house briefly on Saturday but then left quickly, and messaged the family on Sunday morning to inform them that he was safe and would call soon.

Haider said Saeed had either returned to Singapore or was in Germany. It is not known how the five activists went missing, but some rights groups and newspapers have asked whether state or military agencies were in any way involved. The Interior Ministry has repeatedly said it was doing all it could to recover the missing men.

Shortly after the activists’ disappearances, blasphemy allegations against them appeared on social media and in a complaint to police. Friends, family and supporters of all five men deny they have blasphemed and have denounced the campaign to press that charge, which could endanger their lives were they to reappear. In Pakistan, conviction under the blasphemy laws can carry a death sentence.



Third ’missing’ Pakistan activist returns home

Published Jan 29, 2017, 9:12 pm IST
Updated Jan 30, 2017, 7:34 am IST

At least five activists and bloggers had vanished mysteriously within a week since January 4.

Rights groups have been protesting and demanding that the government locate the missing acitvists. (Representational Image)

Islamabad: A third Pakistani activist, who was among the five persons who had gone “missing” earlier this month, has returned home safely, a day after two others known for their critical views about the fundamentalists returned.

At least five activists and bloggers had vanished mysteriously within a week since January 4. Rights groups have been protesting and demanding that the government locate them.

Blogger Asim Saeed returned home over the weekend, police sources said but did not give any details of his whereabouts during the period he was said to be “missing”.

Local media reports quoted a sister of Saeed as saying that he reached home “safely”.

Unconfirmed media reports here said he has left Pakistan but officials showed ignorance about those reports.

Saeed had been missing since January 4, along with another blogger Waqas Goraya, who reportedly returned home yesterday.

Another activist Salman Haider, a professor at the Fatima Jinnah University in Rawalpindi, too returned home yesterday.

The details about Haider’s whereabouts during the period was not known. It is believed that Haider ran a popular group ’Bhensa’ on Facebook on which messages and videos were shared against fundamentalist groups as well as the Pakistan Army.

It was not known whether they were kidnapped or where they were kept. Activists have been blaming secret agencies for it but the government has vehemently denied any role of the state authorities.

A United Nations human rights expert on January 12 called on the Pakistani authorities to make it a priority to locate and protect the disappeared human rights and social media campaigners, saying no government should tolerate attacks on its citizens.



Three weeks on, five missing Pakistani rights activists return home

Mubashir Zaidi

ISLAMABAD: January 28, 2017 16:31 IST
Updated: January 28, 2017 23:01 IST

In this January 10, 2017 photo, members of civil society hold a banner with pictures of missing rights activists, Waqas Goraya, Salman Haider (middle) and Asim Saeed, during a demonstration in Islamabad. The trio and two other secular boggers Ahmed Raza Naseer and Samar Abbas have returned home safely, police said. The five did not say who captured them or who handed them over to the police. | Photo Credit: AP

The bloggers were subjected to torture and asked by their abductors not to seek legal recourse: police

Five bloggers and rights activists missing since first week of January have returned home in the early hours of Saturday as mysteriously as they disappeared. Police confirmed that they reached home. They did not say who kidnapped them or handed them over to the police. The relatives of the missing had registered cases of their disappearance with police. Police has said it will investigate their disappearance

Families of the bloggers confirmed that all of them are safe. They declined to comment further.

No case registered

Bloggers Salman Haider, Waqas Goraya, Ahmed Raza Naseer, Aasim Saeed and Samar Abbas were picked up from capital Islamabad and parts of Punjab province between January 5 and 7.

There had been no word on their arrest by authorities despite protests by their families, friends and rights activists. No case has been registered.

The families are requesting privacy and declining further media queries for the moment to disclose who detained them.

But police sources said that the bloggers were subjected to torture and made to sign undertakings that they will not seek a legal course to file cases against the abductors.

Rights fora concerned

Human rights bodies have expressed serious concern over a growing sense of insecurity among civil society activists following disappearance of several bloggers over the last fortnight. They had called for their immediate recovery.

Protests have been held across Pakistan by civil rights activists who have claimed that the bloggers have been picked up by intelligence agencies.

Rights activists and members of civil society termed it an attempt to curb freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 19 of Pakistani constitution.

Social media fume at bloggers

Social media and couple of TV channels accused the bloggers of running anti-Islam pages.

A TV anchor Dr Aamir Liaquat Hussain was banned by PEMRA for hate speech against the bloggers and the rights activists who raised voice in their support and raised questions to probe who abducted them.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar had to issue a statement last week that the propaganda against the bloggers was shameful and incorrect. He also made it clear that no case is being registered against the bloggers. He also sympathised with the families of the bloggers, who had to address a press conference in Islamabad to debunk the allegations leveled on social media.

’Smear campaign against the five’

In a statement, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) stated that the anxiety is fueled not only by the continued disappearance of the five men but also a vicious online smear campaign against them.

“Whoever has disappeared the victims has done Pakistan a great disservice. Not only have their deeds done untold damage to Pakistan’s reputation, but also led to us being firmly counted among nations where expression in the cyberspace makes activists extremely vulnerable,” the HRCP stated in its statement.

Civil rights activists and media have called for making the arrests public. Leading newspapers have written scathing editorials questioning the motive behind the detentions.

HRCP has also said even if the missing bloggers are suspected of any wrongdoing, their apprehension in this manner cannot be justified. If such is indeed the case, law must be followed and courts should have a chance to examine the case against them. “It is in everyone’s interest that the missing bloggers are recovered without delay. It must be understood that national interest is in following the rule of law and due process without any exception. HRCP also urges the competent people in the government to reassure the bloggers and activists that it retains the will and the ability to prevent violation of their rights and provide them a safe environment to air their views and engage in activism.”

International condemnation

The detentions have also attracted widespread international condemnation. U.S. State Department had expressed serious concern over the missing bloggers.. “We’re very concerned by reports that several Pakistani bloggers and activists have been reported missing and we’re going to continue to monitor the situation,” its spokesman Mark C Toner said on January 13.



Govt can’t claim helplessness in missing bloggers’ case: Saroop Ijaz

Last Updated On 10 January,2017 11:00 pm

Saroop Ijaz says human rights organisations can converse with govt only, rest is govt’s job

KARACHI: (Web Desk, Dunya News) – Human Right Watch representative in Pakistan Saroop Ijaz on Tuesday said that the government couldn’t get away with everything by simply claiming helplessness in the case of missing bloggers, reported Dunya News.

Talking to Kamran Khan on Dunya News, Saroop Ijaz said that the people of Pakistan, human rights organisations or the political parties could only discuss the matter with the government and the rest was up to government.

“Government can’t get away with it simply by saying that it’s helpless. That would actually mean admittance that the democratic government in Pakistan is completely paralysed. I don’t think they’d want to confess this”.

Ijaz said that the two things common between the four people who have disappeared so far are that they were critical of the religious extremism and that they disagreed with some of Pakistan’s security policies.

“These bloggers weren’t probably using these digital platforms with their own names. They were writing against religious extremism and misuse of religion through these pages and websites. And they talked about what they felt was wrong with Pakistan’s security policy, internal and external, on their pages”.

“Now this is very concerning. Although the history of censorship in Pakistan and this region is very long but this is the first time that it has gone beyond censorship. Previously blogs, Facebook pages or websites were shut down – which is also illegal unless due process is followed – yet this is the first time that people have disappeared”.