Who is behind the disappearance of the five activists?

Published: January 13, 2017

Let’s say that these men did break laws, then why haven’t they been arrested and tried? PHOTO: FACEBOOK

Salman Haider, Ahmad Waqas Goraya, Asim Saeed, Ahmed Raza Naseer, and Samar Abbas have disappeared in the space of days. Some, like Haider, who happened to be a poet, writer, professor, and an editor at the fiercely outspoken publication Tanqeed, and Abbas, who stood as the leader of Civil Progressive Alliance Pakistan, were more prominent. Others, such as Goraya, Saeed, and Naseer kept lower profiles but were known among some as activists on social media.

Upon their disappearance, there was outrage in both Pakistan and international circles. In a country known as one of the most dangerous for free thinkers such as journalists and activists, the incidents were frightening.

The first question that sprang to mind is who is behind their disappearance? To answer that, let’s look at the common threads. All of these men were apparently critical of the government, the growing level of the religious radicalisation in Pakistan, and of the military.

To start with, it would be difficult to believe it is the government. This would be like believing a monkey has started riding a bicycle. I mean, it could happen, but it’s also highly implausible.

It’s also difficult to imagine it was religious zealots. The efficiency and chillingly organised nature with which all five men disappeared is beyond the capabilities of common extremists. For one, some of these men had just returned from overseas. For the other, the common zealot would not have been aware of the pages they may have been running in secrecy.

Interestingly and perhaps equally alarmingly, there has been a backlash. It is clearly an organised attempt at changing public opinion. In what is an old pattern, a vicious social media campaign against the abductees began on Twitter.

The old signs were there.

The character assassination, powered by identical tweets from dozens of different accounts simultaneously started a snowball effect. Anyone who has seen it happen before can recognise the patterns.

These professional elements with fake Twitter profiles usually start the opening over of the match with a combination of keywords like ‘blasphemer’, ‘Indian agent’, ‘anti-Pakistan’, ‘anti-Army’, ‘atheist’, and ‘anti-Islam’ amongst others. The accusations are all unsubstantiated, all often sporting the same spelling mistakes, pointing to a symptom of copy and paste. But it takes little to fire up our imbecilic ignoramuses, whether online or on the streets, who are easily triggered by such phrases without bothering to do their own checks and lacking the intellect to interpret words taken out of context.

Once the snowball is rolling and the mob has raised its pitchforks, the fire starters draw back into the shadows, letting the mob mentality do the work for them.

As far as the activists are concerned, the snowball has now turned into a rolling mountain, with frostiness spread to television. Just recently, someone who claimed to be a family member of one of the missing came on TV to hurl the sort of accusations at his own family member that will get you killed in Pakistan. One of the guests, our brightest star for human rights, Jibran Nasir was also the target of these accusations, and could only watch bemused.

Many of our keyboard warriors are now are calling for heads of these activists, so easily are they played like a piano.

Let’s say that these men did break laws, then why haven’t they been arrested and tried? For those behind their abductions, it seems like a trial in the public court is a far more a pressing matter than a trial in the court of law.

I have bigger concerns with our bloodthirsty public.

Why are we so thin-skinned? Why must we fight words with violence? Perhaps more disturbing is that these pages that allegedly were run by the activists who did not have more than a moderate following. It seems that scripture was used once again as a weapon by the mighty to sway the easily swayed public. The ones who simply can’t be spoken against, weren’t bothered by anti-radicalisation activism, but certainly used that as an excuse to silence chatter against them, themselves. This isn’t a new story, and it only fans further the flames of radicalisation.

What’s also bothersome is that while five activists who only harmlessly shared their opinions have disappeared, far more dangerous men walk freely in Pakistan, campaigning as they please.

Have a look:

  • Rohan

    who else makes people disappear in Pakistan for not towing the national ideologyRecommend

  • Parvez

    Forceful and hard to fault .Recommend

  • Guest

    We all know that who abducted the five activists but we cannot name them…………such is democracy in the land of the pure……….Recommend

  • Raheel

    This is not the work of religious fanatics. They eliminate targets in a very public manner. They want to spread fear and at the same time get the public and sponsors behind them by doing a big and visible hit. Only the deep state does these things quietly. ISI knows who in its organization is doing this and why. This cannot be done without the tacit blessing of the ultimate guy in charge – Gen Bajwa. It is the same story like Putin has to be in the know as to who from Russia hacked into the US democrats systems.Recommend

  • wb

    Are you really so naive to not know who is REALLY behind all disappearances in Pakistan?Recommend

  • mazharuddin

    The disappearance of people is condemned. This is also the biased attitude of Media and Writer who did not discuss the work and activities of these missing persons inorder to understand the reason and see whether the work of agencies or there is involvement of foreign hand that working against the country.Recommend

  • shiva the destroyer

    some would say….Ajit Doval and Modi :)Recommend

  • Naqash Choudary

    Very well written, thanksRecommend

  • Striver

    Brilliant article written for fools.

    I commend the imagination of the writer. In his imagination he seems to have worked out exactly where the responsibility rests by looking at the “common threads” and hurriedly pointing the finger at his usual suspects. This was a was a fore-gone conclusion.

    Truly, we are a lost people. Directionless.Recommend

  • Sejra

    Sir you are of another level…Recommend

  • Fahim

    Some would say these two are behind trying to retrieve them, we exactly know at what sides you are and we are!Recommend

  • Akbar

    The civilian govt should stop acting like cowards and take responsibility. Yes sure, its likely the agencies that picked up the activists. But it is the Cyber Crime Bill which got them to that point.Recommend

  • InnocenceSuffers

    ISLAM is behind it! There mere existence of ISLAM implies the slow and steady attrition of all other religions – through either JIHAD, or violence or outright population englufment. Its is the nature of ISLAM to be in the 7th century forever.Recommend

  • InnocenceSuffers

    hopefully if that is true. but sadly – it is other MUSLIMS who are responsbil 99.99% of the timesRecommend

  • Mazharuddin

    The disappearance of Salman Haider and Sameer Abbas should not be having any concern because both were Imamis. However, the disappearance of other 3 people is the matter of greate condemned. This is also the biased
    attitude of Media and Writer who did not discuss the work and activities of these none-Imami missing persons inorder to understand the reason and see
    whether the work of agencies or there is involvement of foreign hand that working against the country.Recommend

  • Mazharuddin
  • farhan

    we pakistanis support it brcause we want islamic country and not some wanna be liberals who defameRecommend

  • Mazharuddin

    Yes you are right my brother – thanks Allah will bless you AmenRecommend

  • Genie

    We all forget. Yes we all do forget. Forget at our peril. No matter what we believe or do not believe but it is most likely that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow.
    No matter what we believe or do not believe but it is absolutely certain that we all shall one day be standing before the Supreme Judge and made to account for everything small or big we said and did. Said and did it today while in this world.
    How many people shall we come across today who will show by their deeds that they care for that day coming their way? Not many.
    All those criminals, kidnappers, usurpers, thieves, robbers, murderers will absolutely certainly taste the consequences of their misdeeds they do today.Recommend

  • Sejra

    Correction: Sir you are on another level of ridiculous…Recommend

  • Swaadhin

    Taliban says we carried out the bomb blast and the Pakistan news channels scream “who has done it”Recommend