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Cloak and Dagger Disappearances

by Newsweek Pakistan

Pakistan has a ‘disappeared persons’ epidemic

Pakistan has become a country of disappearances. People are simply picked up and made to disappear for a period of time depending on the “threat” they pose to ideological or political security of the state. The latest case is that of journalist Zeenat Shahzadi who went too far on the scent of an Indian Muslim national who couldn’t be found after entering Pakistan. Hamid Nehal Ansari actually went to the Taliban-infested district of Kohat in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and was not heard of again. Shahzadi went on his trail and, because her pursuit of the “disappeared” was in itself intriguing, she also disappeared and has now returned after two years in which period her brother committed suicide out of depression.

Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (COIED) says she was recovered near the Pak-Afghan border and hints have been dropped that “foreign secret agencies” were involved in making her disappear. Does this mean that she was not under suspicion from our own security agencies? Is she now going to be questioned on what she was doing on the trail of an Indian national? The Indian national is with the security agencies, however, saying, “I had not come to Pakistan for commission of anti-state activities, but to meet a female with whom friendship was developed on Facebook.”

No one is supposed to give way to excessive curiosity about “disappearances” in Pakistan while winking on the side about Pakistan’s steady submission to “national security” institutions who can abduct even politicians during a local by-poll. Bloggers who express a more than normal disagreement with the ideology of Pakistan too have a way of disappearing and keeping mum after they return from wherever they had been kept. Balochistan claims 15,000 disappearances, and the courts are alerted about them without having any effect on the phenomenon. Needless to say, Shahzadi too is unwilling to talk about what happened to her during the two years she was with “enemy agencies.”

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