South Asia
Daughter of missing Pashtun activist Idris Khattak slams Pakistan over silence

Bangladesh Live News | @banglalivenews | 15 May 2020

Photo courtesy: Talia Khattak Twitter page

London: Talia Khattak, daughter of a prominent human rights defender Idris Khattak, has slammed Pakistan over its silence on her father's 'forced disappearance' last year.

"My father, Idris Khattak, a devoted human rights defender and the most selfless man I know, was forcibly disappeared on 13 November, 2019. I have not heard from him. No one has any idea where he could be. We don’t even know who took him," she wrote on Amnesty International website.

Slamming Pakistan over enforced disappearance incidents, she said: "In Pakistan, enforced disappearances have been used as a tool to muzzle dissent and criticism of the state. People are just abducted by the very institutions that are supposed to protect them and placed outside the law. There is no arrest warrant, no record, no investigation – as if the person never existed."

"Papa had been missing for five days already before I found out the horrible truth that he had, after years of reporting on enforced disappearances, been disappeared himself," she said.

She said her father deserved the protection of the law.

"There is so much anger to hold on to. At the indifference from the police to the swings and roundabouts of the courtroom. My father is not a casefile. He is a human being who cannot be wiped away like an inconvenient streak of dirt. He is a person, with people who are looking for him. We deserve answers, and he deserves the protection of the law," she said.

Pakistani authorities have not seriously investigated the enforced disappearance of a political activist and human rights defender, Idris Khattak, who has been missing nearly six months, said Human Rights Watch.

"Khattak, 56, has not been seen since November 13, 2019, when unidentified armed men intercepted his car near Swabi, in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Khattak’s family filed a habeas corpus petition in the Peshawar High Court, which ordered the government to report on Khattak’s whereabouts, but the authorities have repeatedly stalled proceedings," HRW website said.

“The Pakistani government should urgently investigate and report on the whereabouts of the activist Idris Khattak, who has been missing for nearly six months,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Pakistan has an international legal obligation to investigate enforced disappearances, prosecute those responsible, and bring an end to the pain suffered by the families of the disappeared.”

Who is the activist?

Khattak is a political activist and secretary general of the National Party’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provincial office. He is also a human rights researcher on Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Pakistan and enforced disappearances:

Pakistan’s security forces have long been implicated in enforced disappearances, carried out with impunity.

The Pakistani Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances reported in December 2019 that 2,141 individual cases remain unresolved.

However, the government is yet to provide answers to families, charge or release people held in illegal secret detention centers, or hold those responsible to account, HRW said.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had been a vocal critic of enforced disappearances while in the political opposition, and, after taking office, approved a draft law criminalizing the practice, reported the website.

However, the draft law has not been presented before parliament for approval. In November 2018, the federal minister for human rights, Dr. Shireen Mazari, who had condemned the practice as violating Pakistan’s constitution, advised the prime minister to sign the International Convention against Enforced Disappearance. 

“Enforced disappearances are an egregious crime that will persist in Pakistan unless the government gets serious about investigating them and bringing those responsible to justice,” Adams said. “Now that he is prime minister, Imran Khan needs to ensure that Pakistan takes measures to end the cruel practice.”

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