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  • 18 Jun, 2024

Whereabouts of Ahmad Farhad Unknown: The Enigma of Pakistan’s Vanished Poet

Whereabouts of Ahmad Farhad Unknown: The Enigma of Pakistan’s Vanished Poet

Farhad has been absent for a week. His family accuses Pakistan's intelligence agency, while the government denies holding him. A court now orders his discovery within the week.

Islamabad, Pakistan - A poet disappears, his family alleging involvement by the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. Despite government denial, the Islamabad High Court steps in, demanding his appearance within four days or face interrogation of top officials.

Ahmad Farhad.

Also a journalist, vanished on May 14, prompting his family to petition the court, citing his criticism of authorities. Known for his coverage of protests in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, the 38-year-old faced pressure from government agencies, according to his wife, Syeda Urooj Zainab. 

Farhad, originally from Pakistan-administered Kashmir, supported human rights regardless of party affiliation, Zainab asserted. He disappeared late on May 15, allegedly abducted by four men outside his home. Concerns over his safety had been voiced earlier due to his political commentary. 

Zainab received a WhatsApp message from Farhad two days after his disappearance, offering his return in exchange for withdrawing the court petition.

“I could tell he was being coerced into sending the message. He asked me to withdraw my petition, and he would return home. He also said he is away for some private business, but it was clearly a forced statement” she said.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), a leading human rights organization in the country, has denounced Farhad's disappearance and called for his immediate release.

What has the court stated thus far?

During Monday's hearing, the court directed the police to swiftly locate the missing poet, cautioning that failure to do so might result in summoning the defense secretary. 

In its written order issued on Monday, the court also mandated the police to investigate the allegations regarding Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officials by recording their statements. Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, the IHC judge overseeing the case, emphasized the need for the government to alter public perceptions of state institutions accused of involvement in abductions.

However, a defense ministry official informed the court on Monday that Farhad is not in the custody of the ISI. Additional Attorney General Munawar Iqbal, representing the government, assured the court that Farhad would be located promptly.

During a previous hearing, the judge stated that if state authorities failed to locate the missing poet, the court would summon the prime minister.

Pakistan has a troubled history of enforced disappearances, with the military and intelligence agencies facing accusations of orchestrating abductions of critics and politicians.

 

Despite this, Zainab, Farhad's wife, expressed optimism about her husband's return following the court's intervention.