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Pak Commission seeks thorough probe into missing journalist

File photo of Pakistani woman journalist, Zeenat Shahzadi

Lahore : Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission has sought a thorough probe into the mysterious disappearance of a Pakistani woman journalist allegedly kidnapped while pursuing case of an Indian engineer who was jailed over espionage charges by a military court.

The commission raised the matter of Zeenat Shahzadi, a local reporter of Daily Nai Khaber and a TV channel Metro News, with security agencies and the government to ensure her safe recovery as the number of “missing persons” continue to grow in Pakistan with 68 new cases reported last month.

“Disappearance of Shehzadi is shamelessness. Now a 24-year-old woman has been picked up without a warrant. Is this the new trend to pick up young women? We want to know what her crime was and why she is missing without a warrant?” said rights activist and member of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Hina Jilani at a press conference here.

Zeenat allegedly kidnapped on August 19 last year by “unknown” men while she was striving for the recovery of an Indian national Hamid Ansari, who had reportedly gone missing in Pakistan since November 2012. Police have registered an abduction case against ‘unknown men.’

“She was working on a case (of Ansari) openly and in courts and if there is suspicion of her spying (for India) then the State agencies should tell her family,” Jilani said, adding that the Commission for the Enquiry of Enforced Disappearances is working on the case but not much has been discovered.

“More disappearances have surfaced and 68 were reported to the Commission in the past one month,” she said.

Before her abduction, Zeenat had filed an application with the Supreme Court’s Human Rights Cell on behalf of Hamid’s mother Fauzia Ansari.

She secured a special power of attorney from Fauzia in August 2013 and also pursued Hamid’s case in the Peshawar High Court.

“Who will pay for the time of disappearance? Disappearances are an international crime, who will see to it that the abductors are punished for it?” HRCP Vice-Chairperson Nazish Attaullah questioned.

She said the suicide of Zeenat’s brother (Saddam Hussain, 17) the other day was a reflection of the family’s desperation over her continued disappearance.

“Whoever may be holding Zeenat, we call upon the governments of Pakistan and Punjab and the security agencies to ensure that the circumstances of her disappearance are thoroughly investigated to identify those involved. She should be located and reunited with her family at the earliest,” Nazish said.

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