HRCP man kidnapped by agencies
HYDERABAD: The Human Right Commission of Pakistan has accused the agencies of kidnapping Akhtar Baloch, the coordinator of its Hyderabad office, at around 7pm on Sunday.
“This is a message for the HRCP and an attempt to intimidate it into silence,” said Asma Jehangir, the former HRCP chairperson.
The incident followed a successful HRCP meeting attended by about 600 people during which speakers criticized the government on various grounds. The meeting was followed by a peace demonstration against war in Iraq during which full-throated slogans were raised criticizing the ambiguous stance of the government on the issue.
According to eyewitness accounts, Akhtar Baloch was traveling in an HRCP car after the rally when two people on a motorcycle waylaid the car and forced it to stop. Then three people from a white car that was following Mr Baloch’s car put a gun to the driver’s head and told him to go away. They bundled Mr Baloch into their car and sped away.
HRCP spokesmen suspect that the agencies are unhappy with the HRCP and Mr Baloch on account of their criticism of the government and the military. “We know that the government was displeased with our annual report which criticized it for various human rights violations. We also know that the government is not happy with the fact that we have awarded the Dorab Patel Award for Rule of Law to Hamid Khan, an eminent lawyer, who is a vociferous critic of the government. Eminent people like Fakhruddin Ebrahim, the former law minister, had made speeches critical of the government at the ceremony. During the Hyderabad meeting, the following day, former minister Iqbal Hyder and HRCP chairperson Afrasiab Khattak also laid into the government.” Eminenet people from all walks of life have condemned the incident and are demanding that Mr Baloch be released from captivity immediately without any harm being done to him. Since Ms Jehangir is an United Nations international rapporteur for human rights, the incident could prove embarrassing to the government if Mr Baloch is not released immediately. —Staff Report