Despite the drastic decline in incidents of sectarian violence over the last year, recent incidents of forced disappearance caused shock and outrage.
The disappearances of Salman Haider, Ahmed Waqas Goraya, Asim Saeed, and Ahmed Raza Naseer raised eyebrows regarding the hard-won stability and peace in the country, as a resident of Kurram Agency escaped a kidnapping attempt in the federal capital on Saturday.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Abid Zaman, a school teacher in Parachinar and resident of Borki, Kurram Agency, said that masked men chased him near the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) on Saturday night, where he went to enquire about the health of an ailing relative.
The terrified teacher said that soon after leaving the hospital, he was intercepted by a car. Thankfully, he managed to flee. “Those sitting in the car asked me to stop but I realised that they were kidnappers because their faces were covered, and I ran away,” he elaborated.
His younger brother Zahid Zaman who was a college lecturer also survived a similar attempt some years ago in Peshawar. After repeated threats, Zahid Zaman quit his job.
“Sectarian elements are chasing us. Our lives are in danger in our hometown as well as outside Kurram Agency. The government is helpless to protect us. We have no option but to leave the country,” the frightened school teacher said.
According to the recently released annual security report by the Centre for Research and Security Studies (CRSS), an Islamabad-based think-tank, there was a nearly 45% reduction in the number of violence-related fatalities in 2016, down to 4,324 cases from 6,572 in 2015. This reflects the success of the operations across the country by security forces, both military and civilian.
A province-wise breakup of the data shows that Punjab registered the most fatalities from sectarian violence in 2016 – 79, compared to 27 in 2015, followed by Balochistan at 73, Sindh at 40, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) at 36, and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa at 13, while Islamabad and Azad Jammu and Kashmir were the only regions in the country where no fatalities from sectarian violence were reported.
Jibran Nasir has submitted an application to the chief justice of Pakistan for the recovery of Salman Haider, Ahmed Waqas Goraya, Asim Saeed, and Ahmed Raza Naseer.
Haider went missing from Islamabad on Jan 6 while Naseer was allegedly seized near Nankana Sahib on Jan 7. Goraya, who was visiting from Holland, and Saeed, who was visiting from Singapore, were abducted from Lahore on Jan 4.