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Watchdog Demands Pakistan End Silence On 'Disappeared' Activist

Human Rights Watch (HRW) is urging the Pakistani authorities to provide information about the whereabouts of a political activist and human rights activist who has been missing for one month.

Idris Khattak was abducted by unidentified armed men who intercepted his car in the Swab district of the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) watchdog believes he was forcibly disappeared, while the state was "unwilling to acknowledge detaining someone or provide their location," HRW said in a statement on December 12.

Pakistan's security forces "have long carried out enforced disappearances with impunity," the New York-based group said, adding that the practice increased "the risk of torture and extrajudicial execution."

Idris Khattak
Idris Khattak

Khattak, 56, is a member of the National Party and a freelance researcher focusing on human rights issues in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

A court in the provincial capital, Peshawar, has ordered the government to report on the activist's whereabouts -- but only by January 13 next year.

"Even with this directive, police often refuse to provide information on a detainee's whereabouts and reasons for detention," according to HRW.

In September, Pakistan's Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances reported that 2,228 individual cases remained unresolved.

The government's "immediate and full response to Khattak's disappearance would be a step towards recognizing that this terrible problem needs to be addressed," HRW said.