Human rights activists hold a picture of Salman Haider, who is missing, during a protest to condemn the disappearances of social activists in Karachi, Pakistan January 19, 2017. Photo: Reuters
Human rights activists hold a picture of Salman Haider, who is missing, during a protest to condemn the disappearances of social activists in Karachi, Pakistan January 19, 2017. Photo: Reuters

Missing Pakistan poet, activist found

Salman Haider, who disappeared from Islamabad earlier this month, has been found, his family said. Fate of four others not known

January 28, 2017 11:55 PM (UTC+8)

Salman Haider, the Pakistani poet and activist who went missing from Islamabad earlier this month just days after four other human rights campaigners disappeared, has been found, his family said on Saturday.

The five missing liberal activists, some of whom have posted blogs criticizing the political influence of the military and speaking up for the rights of religious minorities, had each gone missing separately since January 4.

“Salman is fine, he is safe and we are happy he is back with us,” Haider’s brother Zeeshan Haider told Reuters, declining to elaborate on where he was.

Zeeshan said he had not met his brother yet but had spoken to him on the phone, but added that several other family members had met him.

Police sources earlier told Geo News channel that Haider, who disappeared on January 6, was found late on Friday night but did not give further details on how he was found. There was no word on the whereabouts of the four other missing activists.

Some rights groups and newspapers have questioned whether state or military agencies were in any way involved in the disappearances. The Interior Ministry has repeatedly said it was doing all it could to recover the missing men. The military and other state agencies have declined to comment.

Shortly after the activists disappeared, blasphemy allegations against them appeared on social media and in a complaint to police. In Pakistan, conviction under the blasphemy laws can carry a mandatory death sentence.

Last year, Haider wrote a poem about human rights abuses in Pakistan’s restive Baluchistan province, including a line about his friends’ friends disappearing. He queried whether his friends, or even he himself, will be next to suffer such a fate.

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