LONDON: Pakistanis living in exile have been warned by the UK police forces of threats to their lives and asked to keep a low profile, a report published in British newspaper The Guardian this week revealed.
The advice came from the Counter Terrorism Policing, which is a collaboration of the UK police forces that work with UK intelligence personnel to help prevent and investigate terrorist activity.
The development came just a week after a jury convicted Muhammad Gohir Khan, a 31-year-old British man of Pakistani descent, who agreed to kill a Pakistani dissident based in the Netherlands as part of a contract killing conspiracy. A photo and address of the target, blogger and activist Ahmad Waqass Goraya, was provided by a Pakistan-based middleman identified in the trial only as “Muzammil”. Inquiries into establishing the identity and whereabouts of Muzammil remain ongoing, the Met Police said in a statement.
The report said that ahead of the trial, officers from the Counter Terrorism Policing warned Pakistani political commentator Rashid Murad to “review his security”.
Defence analyst Ayesha Siddiqa is among those who face such threats
“Police have already installed a panic alarm and CCTV at his home and shared guidance on personal security from the national counter-terrorism security office,” the report said.
Murad told the paper two police officers visited his home last year and informed him that they had intercepted a communication which revealed that some people were planning to harm him.
“They didn’t tell me who but indicated they were from the Pakistani authorities,” Murad alleged.
The report also mentioned lawyer Fazal Khan as another alleged “target” of the Pakistani authorities.
Khan said officers from the Met’s counter-terrorism command told him to notify other UK police forces if he intended to travel outside London.
“In the UK, a severe threat exists; London, Birmingham and cities like Sheffield with big Asian communities and where they [the Pakistani authorities] have people on their payroll. I was asked not to move around, not to leave the city and provide the police details of my contacts,” Khan told The Guardian.
The report said defence analyst Ayesha Siddiqa has also been warned of threats to her life, and revealed that a well-connected lawyer had told her that the method used to target her would involve British-based Pakistani drug gangs.
Siddiqa urged the UK government to pressure Pakistan to also identify an unknown man named in Khan’s trial who was referred to as Muzammil’s “boss”, believed to be behind Goraya’s murder plot.
Pashtun rights campaigner Zar Ali Khan Afridi, who fled to the Netherlands after an abduction attempt, was quoted in the report as saying that he had received a life-threatening call from a British number.
Journalist Yunas Khan in France said he had received an email in December from the French authorities who informed him of leaked audio files in which “a figure from Pakistan’s ruling party, Tehreek-i-Insaf, tells the Pakistani community in Europe to attack Khan”.
“It is a matter of Pakistan’s honour,” says the man on the recording: “Go and make him accountable if you are legitimate sons of your parents.”
The Pakistan government has denied the allegations. A statement from the government to the paper read, “Those who are baselessly defaming and spreading propaganda against Pakistan military and intelligence agencies are doing it to accomplish either their own ulterior motives or that of their sponsors.”
Published in Dawn, February 7th, 2022