07 Dec 2017/Thursday.

Raza : Another Pakistani activist silenced

A Pakistani peace activist Raza Mahmood Khan, aged 40 has been abducted from Lahore. He was a member of the Aghaz-e-Dosti (Initiation of Friendship) organization, and was known for his grassroots activism around the issue of India-Pakistan friendship. Khan had shared several posts that were overtly critical of or poking fun at the military in the days before his disappearance. The event in Lahore where Khan was last seen was organized to discuss the recent Faizabad protest over alleged blasphemy. Khan had expressed views that were “very critical” of the sit-in, the Reuters news agency reported.
Several social media activists who have been critical of the Pak’s military have gone missing in recent months. In January, four activists were released three weeks after being abducted from Lahore, the capital Islamabad and the central Punjab town of Nankana Sahib. Two of them Aasim Saeed and Ahmad Waqass Goraya later had alleged to Al Jazeera and in social media posts that they had been abducted, tortured and interrogated by Pakistani intelligence agents. Earlier in October, Zeenat Shahzadi, a 24-year-old female journalist who was investigating a disappearance case of an Indian national named Hamid Ansari, and was allegedly abducted by some armed personnel on 19 August 2015 suddenly surfaced.
As per reports of Amnesty International 40 journalists have been killed in Pakistan for their work since 2008. Dawn reported that, in the first seven months of 2016, there were 510 reports of forced disappearance in Pakistan. However, according to Amnesty International, the commission has so far received 3,000 cases of such disappearances. In early January 2017, five social media activists Salman Haider, Waqas Goraya, Aasim Saeed, and Ahmad Raza Naseer went missing from different parts of Pakistan. Also target killings of Hamid Mir (GeO TV), Raza Rumi, Abrar Tanoli etc in the recent past indicate an attempt to silence the independent voices that have been openly demanding the respect of Pakistani citizens’ including freedom of speech, freedom of religion, gender equality and most importantly, the right to protection from arbitrary killings and enforced disappearances. ISI has been regularly suspected of targeting and eliminating journalist/activists. Dozens of journalists have reported instances of harassment, intimidation or attacks at the hands of the ISI however; attacks on activists continue to go unpunished.

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