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    Tuesday, 23 January 2018

    Helpless Interior Minister says No information of Raza Khan's disappearance so far,

    Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Monday briefed the Senate about the disappearance of rights activist Raza Mahmood Khan, who has been missing since December 2.
    Iqbal said the government is making efforts to for Raza's recovery but so far no leads have emerged about his disappearance.
    The minister said he was "concerned" at the recent incidents of violence and abduction against journalists.
    "We have asked security institutions to remain vigilant on these matters," he briefed the Senate session.
    Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani asked Iqbal whether he had no knowledge about Raza's disappearance.
    "It is surprising that those who have abducted Raza Khan have vanished," he remarked, adding that no information has emerged about the killer and rapist of six-year-old Zainab Amin so far either.
    "If the state cannot find the culprits, then who will?" asked the Senate chairman. He asked the interior minister to submit a report about Raza's 'abduction' by January 26.
    Taking part in the discussion, PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar commented that those who present a narrative that differs from that of security agencies tend to "go missing".
    He said the missing activist was known for advocating peace in the region particularly peaceful co-existence with India. "This is against the state narrative of peace and security in the region," Babar claimed.
    The senator said the five bloggers, who had gone missing last year and were later released, were "too scared to talk about their ordeal and have sought refuge in foreign lands".
    The bloggers too were known for their posts that went against the official narrative of what constitutes national security, Babar said.
    He proposed that the recovered persons should be encouraged to speak about their ordeal with the human rights committee of the Senate in an in-camera session. The committee should then prepare a confidential report on the basis of their testimony which may then be taken up with the state agencies.
    He also proposed disbanding the present commission on enforced disappearances and replacing it with one that includes investigation experts. The commission has not been able to find out from the recovered persons as to who were their tormentors and "it is time that it was disbanded", Babar said.
    Raza, a convener of Aghaz-i-Dosti, a friendship initiative between the youth of India and Pakistan, was picked up from his residence in Lahore's Model Colony last month. The area falls under the ambit of the Naseerabad police station.
    Activists belonging to various rights groups, along with friends and family, have been agitating for the activist's release. They have condemned the ‘enforced disappearance’ of activists and attempts to silence and harass those speaking up for peace and human rights.
    The Lahore High Court had last month ordered police and intelligence agencies to recover Raza and present him in court as soon as possible.
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