LAHORE: A Joint Investigation Team (JIT) is expected to meet next month in Lahore to discuss the cases of more than a dozen ‘missing persons’ including local journalist Zeenat Shahzadi, whose brother had killed himself on Thursday reportedly in frustration over months-long disappearance.

Zeenat’s brother Saddam Hussain committed suicide outside his Kamahan Road home. The intermediate student was emotionally attached with her ‘missing’ sister and took the extreme step as he could not cope with her absence for more than seven months since August 2015.

The dejected family is pinning their hope on the next meeting of the JIT, expecting Zeenat’s safe release.

Headed by the Lahore Investigation DIG, the JIT comprises officials from intelligence agencies and police department including superintendent of police (SP) of the division concerned and investigation officer (IO) of the police station concerned.

DIG Investigation Sultan Ahmad Chaudhry told Dawn that Zeenat’s case was under investigation like some other cases of missing persons, confirming that the JIT is going to meet next month, but stopping short of giving a date.

The Nishtar Colony police had registered a case on the complaint of her brother Salman Latif after some ‘unknown’ men allegedly ‘kidnapped’ Zeenat on Aug 9 last year when she was going to her office by a rickshaw.

Zeenat Shahzadi was a reporter at a little known local Urdu daily and was also working for a news channel. She was pursuing the case of Indian national Hamid Ansari who had gone missing after his alleged illegal entry into Pakistan through Afghanistan.

“My sister is the only female among the missing persons whose case is being probed by the JIT which was formed on the direction of the Supreme Court of Pakistan,” Salman Latif told Dawn. With trembling voice, he shared that months-long disappearance of his sister followed by suicide by his young brother had landed the family in trouble.

He said in the last hearing of the JIT which was held at Aiwan-i-Iqbal, Lahore in February, the officials had discussed cases of over a dozen missing persons including Zeenat Shahzadi.

“I, along with my mother, have appeared in the four JIT meetings held in Lahore so far,” Salman said. He added that the officials in the February hearing of the JIT had assured that “Zeenat will be back home during or after next hearing”.

“Zeenat didn’t return but we lost another family member before the next hearing of the JIT,” he lamented.

Asked about her relations with Indian national Hamid Ansari, Salman said she was an active social worker and was always happy to help people in distress. She had resolved to help Ansari too in utter ignorance that its consequences could cause harm to her life.

“My mother had told her it was risky but Zeenat assured her that she would withdraw herself from the case once Ansari’s whereabouts were made public,” he said.

Published in Dawn, March 27th, 2016

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