Jibran Nasir, a well-known human rights activist and lawyer, has gone missing after unidentified armed men cornered his vehicle and abducted him from near his residence in Karachi’s Defence Housing Authority on Thursday night.
According to Nasir’s wife Mansha Pasha, who was present in the car during the ordeal, at least 15 heavily armed men in multiple vehicles, including a white Vigo, encircled their vehicle and forcibly took him away.
“We were returning after having dinner when a white Vigo intercepted and almost crushed us. There were 15 men with pistols and they took away my husband forcibly,” Pasha said in her video statement.
She urged everyone to make efforts and pray for the early recovery of her husband.
Nasir, a former independent candidate in the 2018 general elections from Karachi, has criticised the recent state crackdown on the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and legal proceedings concerning individuals allegedly involved in riots.
His efforts to address sectarian violence earned him a place on Foreign Policy Magazine’s 2013 list of three inspirational Pakistanis working against such conflicts.
Meanwhile, in a statement issued on Friday, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah raised concerns over Nasir’s “disappearance” and sought a report from the police chief. He also directed the police to expedite efforts to recover the lawyer.
Sindh IG Ghulam Nabi Memon said, “We have received a complaint from Jibran Nasir’s family and the police are trying to trace him.”
Journalists Imran Riaz Khan, Aftab Iqbal and Sami Ibrahim, all considered supporters of PTI, were also taken into custody earlier this month.
Ibrahim and Iqbal have been released, however, the whereabouts of Imran Riaz Khan remain undisclosed to date.
Media personnel and activists are often among the first to come under the line of fire amid political crackdowns in Pakistan, with the country facing severe criticism from global press freedom and human rights groups for violating the rights of free speech and failing to ensure journalist safety. The country ranked 150/180 on Reporters Without Borders (RSF) 2023 Press Freedom Index.
#ReleaseJibranNasir soon started trending on Twitter with members of the civil society and journalists voicing their concerns over Nasir’s abduction and calling for his immediate recovery.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, an independent rights group, issued a statement late on Thursday night, expressing its deep concerns about Nasir’s abduction.
“HRCP is deeply concerned by reports that lawyer and activist @MJibranNasir has been abducted by unknown armed persons in Karachi. We demand that he be safely recovered immediately, and his abductors held accountable under the law,” it said in its tweet.
In a tweet, Amnesty International strongly condemned Nasir’s “abduction”.
“Jibran Nasir’s abduction is yet another case that the country has seen in recent weeks in the wake of authorities cracking down on critical voices following violent clashes during Imran Khan’s arrest,” the human rights watchdog said.
It called on authorities to “expeditiously and impartially” investigate and determine Jibran’s whereabouts.
“If in state custody, Jibran must either be released immediately or if there is sufficient evidence, produce him in a civilian court, and charge him with an internationally recognisable offence,” it added.