KARACHI: Two prominent Indian clerics, who had gone missing a few days ago, arrived in Karachi after visiting some remote parts of Sindh, it emerged on Saturday.

According to sources, Syed Asif Ali Nizami, the custodian of Delhi’s Nizamuddin Auliya shrine, and his nephew Nazim Ali Nizami, had travelled to the interior of Sindh to visit some acquaintances.

The sources explained that the clerics might have lost contact with their worried relatives because there was no mobile phone coverage in the area they had visited. “They have returned to Karachi,” said a source.

However, the Indian clerics — or their relatives — could not be contacted for comment in Karachi.

A Times of India report said the duo was expected to leave for India on Monday (tomorrow).

The report added that Islamabad had also informed New Delhi that the two “missing clerics have been traced and are now in Karachi”.

Earlier in the day, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted that she had spoken to Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz regarding the “missing” Indian nationals and he had promised her “all help in tracing” them.

Describing the elder Nizami as the head priest of the Nizamuddin Aulia shrine, Indian media reported that he and his nephew had left for Pakistan on March 8 to visit relatives in Karachi. They arrived in Lahore on March 13 and visited the shrine of Baba Farid Shakar Ganj in Pakpattan. The two had reportedly gone missing on March 14 from Lahore airport.

On March 16, Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said India had requested assistance for the recovery of the clerics. He said the request had been forwarded to the interior ministry which was looking into the matter.

On Saturday, Indian media reported that the two clerics were in the custody of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies over suspicion of links with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement.

Quoting unnamed sources, the Press Trust of India ran a story stating that the two clerics were offloaded from a Karachi-bound Shaheen Airlines flight at Allama Iqbal International Airport, Lahore, on March 14 and were detained and interrogated “for their alleged links with the MQM of Altaf Hussain”.

On Friday, Sindh police chief A.D. Khowaja told reporters that the foreign security cell of the Special Branch had no record of the arrival of the Indian clerics. A top-ranking police official told Dawn on Saturday that police were clueless about the disappearance and return of the Indian clerics.

Published in Dawn, March 19th, 2017