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Two missing activists return home, say family members

Updated January 29, 2017

Two activists who went missing earlier this month returned home on Sunday, family members told Dawn, a day after two of the other disappeared men were confirmed secure.

The activists, Asim Saeed and Waqas Goraya, were among five men campaigning for human rights and religious freedom who went missing from various cities between January 4 and 7, triggering nationwide protests and sparking fears of a government crackdown.

Read more: Four rights activists gone missing this week

Family members told Dawn that Saeed, Goraya, and Abdul Rehman ─ Goraya's cousin who also went missing ─ had returned home safely.

Two of the five activists, poet and academic Salman Haider, and Nankana-resident Ahmed Raza Naseer, who were reported missing made contact with their families for the first time in over three weeks on Saturday to say that they were safe.

One missing activist, Civil Progressive Alliance Pakistan (CPAP) President Samar Abbas, remains unaccounted for.

No group has claimed responsibility for the abductions.

Explore: Missing activists make contact with families

Human Rights Watch and other rights groups said the near simultaneous disappearances of the activists raised concerns of government involvement, which officials and intelligence sources have denied.

Read more: A dark new chapter in the state’s murky war against civil society appears to have opened

Pakistan is routinely ranked among the world's most dangerous countries for journalists, and reporting critical of security policies controlled by the powerful military is considered a major red flag, with reporters at times detained, beaten and even killed.