Since January 2017, the fate of several Pakistani activists has been worrisome, stirring movements within the country. These movements have put forth the demand to help make the activists return home. The first activist to go missing was on January 4th, 2017 and since then five men have seen the same fate.
With the election season being in full swing, the Pakistani masses have voiced a major concern about what each respective party intends to do to bring them home.
Peace activist Ahmad Waqas Goraya went missing on January 4th. A few hours later, Asim Saeed followed suit. A few days after their abduction, on January 7th, Salman Haider, board member of Tanqeed magazine and Ahmed Raza Naseer went missing. Later, the same day, President of the Civil Progressive Alliance of Pakistan (CPAP), an anti-extremism group, Samar Abbas was reportedly abducted as well.
Naseer was taken from Punjab from right in front of his family’s shop. Waqas Goraya and others were also picked up either with or without their vehicles in broad daylight. Needless to say, the disappearances have created panic and discomfort amongst other human rights and peace activists. They have expressed their concern and demanded the government take action to secure their well-being.
However, not much was promised or accomplished. Because of this fear, the activists have expectations from the political parties in the running to take the matter into their own hands. Despite the matter being a pressing one, very few candidates seem to be concerned.
A peace advocate even said that it feels almost as if the government is unwilling to find the abductees. This has also had a stunting impact on freedom of expression of Pakistani media. The parliament on the other hand has continued to demand action. Several countrywide protests have also been called.
Social media hashtag trends such as #RecoverSalmanHaider #FindRaza and #RecoverAllActivists are being followed through to pressurize the government to take action.
Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said:
This government is not in the business of abducting people and we will not tolerate such disappearances while we are in power.
JIT was also then established on January 10th to inquire the desertions. However, the government remained unable to deliver material regarding the AWOL activists. People have gone so far as to claim that it does not want to provoke the military.
Here is what prominent politicians and media persons had to say about these abductions:
He always raised voice for missing persons now he himself is missing from Islamabad #RecoverSalmanHaider pic.twitter.com/2OYv9UltS7
— Hamid Mir (@HamidMirPAK) January 7, 2017
Civil Society Organizations and Activists protesting right now at Karachi Press Club against abduction of activists #RecoverSalmanHaider pic.twitter.com/my55w29joX
— M. Jibran Nasir (@MJibranNasir) January 9, 2017
Riot control police against peaceful protesters demanding #RecoverSalmanHaider #RecoverAllActivists instead of against mullahs at KPC pic.twitter.com/5E34M8re7Y
— Bilal Farooqi (@bilalfqi) January 19, 2017
#PPP raises Salman Haider & others’ abduction issue in the Parliament..
Call attention notice submitted by #PPP in NA. #RecoverSalmanHaider pic.twitter.com/zNrDnpAlqR
— Majid Agha (@Majid_Agha) January 9, 2017
This is getting v alarming. What is the police saying???#RecoverSalmanHaider https://t.co/pTJMTVqQ9x
— SenatorSherryRehman (@sherryrehman) January 9, 2017
AWP demands immediate recovery of poet, activist & artist Salman Haider, will not rest until he is safely home. #RecoverSalmanHaider pic.twitter.com/47Y48EZYTC
— Awami Workers Party (@AwamiWorkers) January 7, 2017
The state does not abduct people for blasphemy. It abducts when its policies are questioned & human rights demanded. #RecoverAllActivists
— Gul Bukhari (@GulBukhari) January 12, 2017
#PPPP Senate’s parliamentary leader Senator Taj Haider addresses the protest for #RecoverAllActivists at national Press club Islamabad pic.twitter.com/9gklB6hXha
— Pakistan Peoples Party (@PPP_Org) January 11, 2017
Apparently govt is also not in the business of questioning the ones who are involved in such activities either.#RecoverAllActivists pic.twitter.com/igrr3k3lrj
— Emran Brohi (@ibrohi31) January 11, 2017
Activists are concerned for their own safety and are demanding more than just a public statement from the elective candidates to ensure the safety of the missing activists. Where politicians like Jibran Nasir, AWP and PPP have taken to social media to express their concern and document their actions, several others have said nothing on the matter.