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`Abduction` of rights activist challenged in high court

Bureau Report 2019-11-24
PESHAWAR: The alleged abduction of human rights defender and political activist Idrees Khattak was challenged in the Peshawar High Court by his brother seeking directives for his `captors` to produce him before the court.

A habeas corpus petition was filed on behalf of Idrees Khattak by his brother, Dr Owais Khattak, requesting the court to order respondents, including heads of different intelligence agencies, to produce the detainee and free him if he`s not involved in any offence.

The petitioner also sought the court`s orders for respondents against the detainee`s implication in any untraced or false criminal case.

Idrees Khattak, a former provincial general secretary of the National Party, was allegedly taken away from Swabi Toll Plaza near the Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway along with the driver of arented car on Nov 13. Though the driver was freed two days later, the whereabouts of Mr Idrees hasn`t been known since.

The petition filed through Peshawar High Court Bar Association president Abdul Lateef Afridi said the detainee had studied in the erstwhile Soviet Union and held a PhD degree in anthropology from a Soviet university.

The petitioner said the detainee had visited his sister in Islamabad in a rented car driven by Shahsawar, who also claimed to be the owner of the car.

He said when the detainee was returning, some people in plainclothes signaled the car on the main Motorway to stop.

The petitioner quoted the driver as saying those persons with faces covered by masks made them sit in another car before taking them away.

He claimed that driver Shahsawar was freed on Nov 15 near the Islamabad Toll Plaza, while the car was handed over to him before being told to go home straightaway.

The petitioner said the detainee had not committed any offence in Pakistan, so his arrest and detention was illegal.

He said he had also lodged a complaint with the Chota Lahor police station in Swabi district for the detainee`srecovery and that was incorporated in the daily diary on Nov 18.

The petitioner said the detainee had been the general secretary of Alumni Association of Russian Graduates in Pakistan.

He said the detainee had returned from Russia more than 20 years ago and had never gone there again.

The petitionersaidthe detainee occasionally visited the Russian Embassy to attend social gatherings in which other Pakistani graduates from Russian educational institutions had also participated.

He said the illegal detention of the detainee was a violation of his fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution.

The respondents in the petition are the federal government through the interior secretary, KP counter-terrorism department through its chief, and heads ofthreeintelligence agencies.

Missing Idrees Khattak had also remained associated with different international human rights watchdogs, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

The Amnesty International and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan haveexpressedconcernabouthisdisappearance.