01/30/2017, 09.56
PAKISTAN

Missing activist professor reappears

Salman Haider had disappeared in Islamabad on January 6th. Before him, two bloggers went missing in Lahore. Another missing blogger makes contact with the family. No news of the president of the Civil Alliance of Progressive Pakistan.

 

Islamabad (AsiaNews) - Salman Haider, a famous Pakistani professor and poet and one of the five intellectual activists who disappeared more than three weeks ago, has returned home. This was confirmed by Zeeshan Haider, his brother, who also described his health condition as "good", without adding further details. The situation of the three other bloggers and activists seized, including the president of the Civil Alliance of Progressive Pakistan, remains unknown.

Haider, a professor at the Fatima Jinnah Women's University in Rawalpindi, disappeared on 6 January on the outskirts of Islamabad, where he was on  a business trip. Countless citizens have spoken out for his release, and those of the other activists including intellectuals, Christian and Muslim religious leaders.

While the family rejoices for his return, the motivations of those responsible for the kidnapping and detention remain obscure. From the beginning the suspicions have fallen on police, as the professor and other activists had long denounced the rampant religious extremism in the country and the attitude of some radical factions within the security forces and government.

In particular, Haider led campaigns against enforced disappearances in Balochistan province. A study by the Commission on Enforced Disappearances last December 2016, shows that from 2011 in that province the bodies of 936 missing persons were found.

In recent weeks, alongside supporters of activists took to the streets to demonstrate, some Islamic extremists made accusations of blasphemy – a crime punishable with the death penalty in Pakistan - against those who demanded the return home of colleagues and friends. One of these extremists, a well-known TV presenter, is under investigation for having incited to undertake violent actions and for spreading "hate speech."

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