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Friday, March 31, 2023

ISI assassinates political dissident, exiled journalist

Pakistani agencies are once again on a killing spree of human rights activists and political dissidents of Pakistan. In the last ten days, they have killed prominent Pakhtun leader Arif Wazir and an exiled Baloch journalist Sajid Hussain.

Pakistan’s notorious secret service agency ISI has always had a direct or indirect hand in majority of such incidents that include violence, sabotage and other such terrifying acts against minority human rights advocates & groups in Pakistan. Although the agency itself has always denied any such allegations but as we dig deep we always find that these violent acts are either sponsored or perpetrated by ISI.

Recently the killing of Arif Wazir, a leader of Pushtoon Tahaffuz Movement(PTM) in his home town and disappearance & subsequent death of Sajid Hussain, a Pakistani journalist and the editor of Balochistan Times News website, who was in exile and was presently living in Sweden, may seem two separate incidents that happened at two distant locations across the globe.

A recent tweet by Tarek Fatah, a Pakistani Canadian journalist and an advocate of liberal and progressive form of Islam, about being on an ISI ‘kill list’ of 84 Pakistan-born exiles, does indicate the hand of ISI in the recent death of Sajid Hussain & others.

Sajid Hussain, 39, fled Pakistan in 2012 after receiving threats about his reporting on organised crime, forced disappearances and human rights violations in the Balochistan province. Pakistan is accused of neglecting and exploiting the region. Despite being rich in natural resources, it is the most backward region in Pakistan. Baloch people are ethnically, culturally and socially different from the rest of Pakistan and feel exploited at the hands of the dominant Punjabis. Sajid lived in several countries before finally seeking asylum in Sweden in 2017.

The Balochistan Times Journalist Sajid Hussain

Hussain went missing from Uppsala, a place some 70 Kms north of the Swedish capital on 2nd March 2020. RSF (Reporters without Borders) said in late March that it believed Hussain was abducted on the orders of an intelligence agency in Pakistan. It pointed out that Hussain continued working as editor of the Balochistan Times from abroad. The Balochistan Times “often crossed the ‘red line’ imposed by the military establishment in Islamabad” according to the Paris-based media freedom watchdog.

“Everything indicates that this is an enforced disappearance,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “And if you ask yourself who would have an interest in silencing a dissident journalist, the first response would have to be the Pakistani intelligence services. Sajid Hussain’s body was recovered from the Fyris River outside Uppsala on 23rd April, 2020.

Inside Pakistan, death of PTM (Pashtun Tahafuz Movement) party leader Sardar Mohammad Arif Wazir also seems to be a planned conspiracy to strategically silence the rising voice of Khyber Pakhtunwa, the provincial Assembly from where Arif Wazir contested the last elections but was unsuccessful. Arif Wazir was shot near his own house in Wana, a sub Division in South Waziristan district of Khyber Pakhtunwa province by some unknown assailants in a moving vehicle.

He was admitted to the local hospital and later moved to Islamabad where he succumbed to his injuries a day later. Arif Wazir was recently arrested allegedly for his anti-Pakistan speech in Afghanistan and was released on bail a couple of days ago. Arif Wazir’s father and six other family members were also assassinated by terrorists in an attack in 2007.

Slain Pukhtoon leader Arif Wazir

PTM has been critical of the state’s policies in the country’s tribal belt, where a massive operation against insurgents was conducted in recent times and majority of the area was evacuated. Later the residents of the area were never allowed to settle again. Anybody who resisted was either detained or surprisingly disappeared, never to be seen again. PTM’s leaders, in particular its elected members to the National Assembly, have come under fire for pursuing the release of individuals detained by agencies without due process.

The Pakistani army has accused PTM of running an anti-Pakistan agenda and for playing into the hands of the state’s enemies. Last year, MNAs (Member of National Assembly) Ali Wazir (cousin of Arif Wazir) and Mohsin Dawar were arrested by police after a protest gathering in Kharqamar for allegedly using violence and clashing with army personnel. The party, while rejecting these allegations, has insisted that theirs is a peaceful struggle for the rights of people from the country’s tribal belt.

Such state-sponsored assassinations of their own dissenting citizens show the true evil nature of the Pakistani state. One can well imagine the plight of the voiceless Hindu and other minorities who are facing unimaginable persecution on a daily basis. Yet, there is an influential cabal of politicians, editors, bureaucrats, officers, jurists and activists within Bharat which pushes for ‘peace talks’ with this terrorist, theocratic nation. The same Pakophile cabal has violently rejected CAA, a law which offers some respite to the brutalized minorities of Pakistan and other Islamic nations.

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