A prominent Pakistani journalist who fled the country after receiving death threats has gone missing in Sweden where he had been granted political asylum.
Sajid Hussain was last seen boarding a train in Stockholm on his way to Uppsala on March 02, according to press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
The group said it was possible he had been abducted “at the behest of a Pakistani intelligence agency”.
Sajid Hussain, 39, went into self-imposed exile in 2012 after his reporting on forced disappearances and human rights abuses in the turbulent region of Balochistan had led to death threats. He had continued to run an online newspaper, the Balochistan Times, from abroad covering the same topics.
Hussain was last seen at around 11am on March 02 in the Swedish city of Uppsala where he was living. A day after he stopped answering calls, a friend told the police about his disappearance and he was officially registered as a missing person on March 05.
Daniel Bastard, the Asia Pacific head of Reporters Without Borders, said: “Hussain could be a victim of enforced disappearance, given the circumstances of his case and testimony by his family and colleagues.”
Hussain’s family have not accused anyone of involvement in his disappearance and are simply urging the Swedish police to give them an answer.
Relatives told the Pakistani newspaper Dawn they had waited two weeks before expressing their fears in case he had gone into isolation because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Hussain’s wife, Shehnaz, told Dawn that before going into self-imposed exile, her husband had sensed he was being followed. As well as writing about forced disappearances he had exposed a drug kingpin in Pakistan.
“Then some people broke into his house in Quetta when he was out investigating a story,” she said. “They took away his laptop and other papers too. After that he left Pakistan in September 2012 and never came back.”
Balochistan, in the west of Pakistan, has been the scene of a long-running nationalist insurgency. The Pakistani military has been accused of torturing and “disappearing” dissidents. Insurgent groups have also killed members of non-Baloch ethnic groups.
RSF, which campaigns for press freedom, said Hussain had vanished after boarding a train in Stockholm at around 11:30 on 2 March to go to Uppsala where he was to collect the keys to a new flat. He did not alight in Uppsala, RSF said, quoting police.
Pakistan is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a journalist .It ranked 142nd out of 180 countries in the 2019 RSF Press Freedom Index. (Source: BBC)