ISLAMABAD: At least four activists known on social media for their secular leftist views have gone missing this week, relatives and NGO workers said on Sunday.

Waqas Goraya and Asim Saeed disappeared on Jan 4, according to a cyber security NGO, while Salman Haider vanished on Friday and Ahmed Raza Naseer on Saturday, relatives said.

The interior ministry has said it will investigate the disappearance of Mr Haider for his outspoken views on enforced disappearances in Balochistan, but made no reference to the others.

“The state has controlled TV and now they’re focusing on digital spaces,” said Raza Rumi, a writer and analyst who left Pakistan in 2014 after he was attacked by armed men who shot his driver dead.

A security source denied intelligence services were involved in the disappearances.

Naseer, who suffers from polio, was taken from his family’s shop at Sheikhupura in Punjab, his brother Tahir said on Sunday.

Hours after Haider was due home on Friday evening, his wife received a text message from his phone, saying he was leaving his car on the Islamabad expressway, his brother Faizan said. The brother said his brother had not received any specific threats.

Ahmad Waqas Goraya was picked up on Jan 4 from Lahore, as was his cousin Aasim Saeed, said Shahzad Ahmed, head of cyber security NGO Bytes for All.

“None of these activists have been brought to any court of law or levelled with any charges. Their status disappearance is very worrying not only for the families, but also for netizens and larger social media users in the country ,” Mr Ahmed said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari expressed concern over the disappearance of Mr Haider. In a statement in Islamabad, he called upon the law enforcement agencies and the government to ensure his safe and early recovery.

The coordination committee of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement in a statement urged Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to spare no efforts for safe return home of Mr Haider.—AFP

Imran Gabol adds from Lahore: Waqas Goraya, an anthropologist, and cousin Aasim Saeed, owner of a Facebook page known for its liberal posts and critical of establishment and religious extremists, went missing in Wapada Town on Jan 4. A kidnap case was lodged with the Sattukatla Police Station, Dawn learnt on Sunday.

Goraya, a resident of Johar Town, was settled in the Netherlands while Saeed was living in Singapore. Both had gone to Wapada Town but did not return to their home.

Mr Goraya returned to Pakistan in November and he was looking to buy a house to settle in Wapda Town, his brother Ahmad Gul Liaquat told Dawn by phone from Denmark. He said his family members in Lahore searched for his brother and cousin in hospitals, police stations and other places but in vain.

A senior police official, on condition of anonymity, said that police had nothing to do with them while adding it’s not their subject.

Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Operation Dr Haider Ashraf said they had registered the kidnapping case with Sattukatla police station on Jan 5 and were investigating it.

He said they did not know yet where the both men were gone and would soon unearth the people involved in the kidnapping.

Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2017

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