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Missing Activist Idris Khattak In Custody Of Military Intelligence, Commission Informed

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Idrees Khattak, a social activist who has been missing for almost seven months, is said to be in the custody of the military intelligence and is being prosecuted under the Secret Act.

His lawyer Latif Afridi told the BBC that military Intelligence has submitted a statement to the Commission on Enforced Disappearances a day ago that Idrees Khattak was in their custody. They further told the commission that action was being taken against him under the Secret Act. It may be recalled that about seven months ago, social worker Idrees Khattak was abducted from his car by a group of men in plainclothes near Swabi Interchange on the way from Islamabad to Akora Khattak. He has been missing ever since.

Lawyer Latif Afridi said that a statement submitted to the Commission on Missing Persons by the Pakistan Army’s intelligence agency said that Idrees Khattak was being tried under the Official Secrets Act 1923, a British-era law.

His lawyer Latif Afridi said, “Why did he stay in the custody of the security forces for so long? If the trial had really taken place during that time, he would have been acquitted today.” Earlier, a case was pending in the Peshawar High Court for the recovery of Idrees Khattak, in which all security agencies were asked to file a reply.

The next hearing in the case is set for July 25. His car was stopped on November 13, 2019 at noon after passing through Swabi Toll Plaza. From there, Idris Khattak was taken in another vehicle along with his driver Shah Sawar. The next morning, Idrees Khattak called a friend and asked for his laptop and hard disk. Since Idris Khattak’s house was locked, his friend was called home and after a while, two people came to get the key of his house and took his belongings with him after identifying Idris Khattak on call.

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Idris Khattak’s driver was dropped off near the Islamabad Toll Plaza on the motorway and told to return the vehicle and go straight home. After which they returned to the village late at night.

After that, driver Shahsawar lodged a complaint at Anbar police station. According to a complaint lodged by Shahsawar at the police station, “Immediately after passing through Swabi Toll Plaza, two men in plain clothes signaled to stop his vehicle.” As soon as the vehicle stopped, four men stood around the vehicle, two of whom blindfolded Idris Khattak and Shahsawar and took them away in another vehicle.

Idris Khattak holds a PhD in anthropology from Russia and has been associated with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as a researcher. Much of his research has been on forcibly disappeared people from the former FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan, and he is also known as a social worker. Last month, Amnesty International called the disappearance of Idris Khattak a “very serious matter.” The group said in a statement that Idrees Khattak has been ‘disappeared’. No information is being provided to his family. “Idris Khattak could be a victim of violence or worse,” Amnesty claimed.

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Naya Daur