Did Disappeared Official Really Just Go Off on a Trip to the Mountains?

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Pakistan’s notorious security services kidnapped a politician in 2018 to force him to join the new Kings Party, Imran Khan’s PTI. When he resurfaced, those responsible for his disappearance were explained away as ‘officials from the Agriculture Department.’
Now a new and equally absurd explanation has surfaced after another enforced disappearance.

At a time when both human rights organizations and the judiciary are concerned about the rise in cases of enforced disappearances, a senior official at the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), Sajid Gondal went missing for almost a week before he miraculously reappeared.

On Thursday August 3, unidentified persons kidnapped Gondal from the Shahzad Town area of the capital on Thursday at about 9 pm. According to the habeas corpus petition filed by Gondal’s mother in the Islamabad High Court, “the kidnappers left Mr Gondal’s official car outside the National Agriculture Research Center (NARC) on Park Road, which was recovered by police on Friday.”

On Monday September 6, Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah “expressed concern over a rise in cases of enforced disappearances in Islamabad and ordered the production in court of Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) joint director Sajid Gondal. He warned that act­ion would be taken against the interior secretary, the chief commissioner and the insp­ector general of Islam­abad if they failed to trace the whereabouts of Mr Gondal. The recent increase in cases of abduction within the fourteen hundred square miles area of the Islamabad Capital Territory is alarming and raises questions regarding fundamental rights of the citizens and the state of governance.”

On Tuesday September 7, Gondal returned home. He “took to Twitter to announce his return, saying: “I am back and safe, and I am thankful to all friends who were worried for me.” Police sources involved in the investigation of his disappearance said the abductors had set him free. A family friend of Gondal also confirmed the news of his release. He was released near Rawat, a suburb of the federal capital. Upon being freed, he contacted his family members through a phone call and informed them that he was arriving home shortly.”

Gondal has publicly denied being kidnapped and has claimed he was traveling in the Northern Areas and so was out of touch with friends and family. Most analysts agree that he was one of the lucky ones who despite being ‘enforced disappeared’ has been returned because of media and judicial pressure.

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Author: Alia Khan