Pakistan court orders government to produce missing activist

February 12, 2014 - 10:31:25 am

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani court Wednesday ordered the government to produce an anti-drone activist, who was apparently detained by the country's intelligence agencies at a hearing on February 20, his lawyer said.

Kareem Khan was picked up from his home on the outskirts of Islamabad on February 5, according to his legal team, just days before he was due to testify before European parliamentarians.

"The Rawalpindi bench of Lahore High Court has sought reply from the intelligence agencies through the government, ordering the intelligence agencies to produce Kareem Khan on February 20 or give the reason behind his arrest in writing to the court," his lawyer Shahzad Akbar told AFP. 

He said the police had also produced its report before the court "denying any involvement in the disappearance of Khan".

"The police in their report did mention that Khan was picked up by men wearing police uniform but they said it was not them," he said. 

"I am not very hopeful that the intelligence agencies will produce Khan or tell the court why they have arrested him, we know how the intelligence agencies work in this country, they are answerable to no one."

Akbar said it would be an achievement simply to learn from the government which agency had detained Khan and why.

The freelance journalist was fighting a legal case in which he had named both the CIA's former station chief and the Pakistani government for their roles in the US drone campaign in the country's tribal areas.

Khan's brother and teenage son were killed in a drone attack in their native North Waziristan in December 2009.

Pakistan last month passed a new law allowing its security forces to detain terror suspects for up to 90 days without disclosing their whereabouts or the allegations against them.

The law appeared to be an attempt to give legal cover to the cases of so-called "missing persons", suspects who disappear into custody of the security services with no information given to their relatives.

A campaign group formed by the relatives of the missing persons says as many as 2,000 people have disappeared from across the country, many from the restive southwestern province of Baluchistan. (AFP)