ISLAMABAD – Global rights group Amnesty International has urged Pakistan to reveal immediately the whereabouts of an activist who has worked on alleged enforced disappearances in the country and completed on Friday a year since he disappeared.
Idris Khattak, who has worked for Amnesty International, went missing on Nov. 13 last year when a group of unidentified men stopped his vehicle and took him away while he and his driver were traveling in Pakistan’s restive northwest.
For months, Khattak’s disappearance remained shrouded in mystery.
However, after intense pressure from human rights organizations and the family, Defense Minister Pervez Khattak announced in June that Idris Khattak was in their custody on charges of treason.
The minister did not provide more information, but said he would be tried in a military court. The crime, if proven, carries the death penalty in Pakistan.
The nonprofit urged Pakistan to remove the veil of “unacceptable secrecy” and let the family know the whereabouts of Khattak.
“A year after he was taken from them, Idris Khattak’s family remain completely in the dark about where he is being kept, his state of health, and the legal process he is being put through, if any,” said Omar Waraich, Head of South Asia at Amnesty International.
“The Pakistani authorities must end this intolerable situation by disclosing his whereabouts and allowing him regular access to his family and lawyer.”
“No information has been provided on the charges against him, if he has legal representation, or if the trial has even started,” said Waraich, who asked that the activist be brought before a civil court.
Waraich said, like all enforced disappearance cases, Khattak’s legal status remained shrouded in mystery as there was no information about the nature of the charges against him, whether he has legal representation, or even if his trial has started.
“As a first step, the Pakistani authorities must bring him before a judge in a civilian court to rule on the lawfulness of his arrest and detention.”
Khattak, who suffers from diabetes, has extensively investigated enforced disappearances in Pakistan.
According to the Pakistan Human Rights Commission, at least 6,650 have been forced into disappearance by security agencies in recent years.
“Following promises of a clampdown by the government, enforced disappearances remain an all-too-common occurrence in Pakistan. Despite an open admission from the authorities that Idris Khattak was abducted, those responsible have enjoyed complete impunity so far,” said Waraich.