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World


Missing Journalist Zeenat Shahzadi is home safe

She was forcibly abducted and was recovered from near Pak-Afghan border


missing-journalist-zeenat-zhahzadi-is-home-safe

Missing Journalist Zeenat Shahzadi, who went missing in Lahore in 2015, has been recovered, as revealed on Friday.

Pakistan journalist Zeenat Shahzadi went missing after filing an application with Pakistan’s Supreme Court on behalf of missing Indian citizen Hamid Nehal Ansari’s mother, Fauzia. Ansari was sentenced to three-year imprisonment for espionage months after Shahzadi’s disappearance.

"Zeenat received threats from unknown persons who asked her not to pursue the case anymore. We also asked her not to put her life at risk but she said she wanted to help Ansari out of humanity. When she spoke to Ansari's mother she literally cried along with her and vowed to help," Latif said.

Pointing out that non-state actors and enemy agencies had kidnapped Zeenat and that she was recovered from them, Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal, head of Pakistan's missing persons commission, said on Friday, "Tribal elders in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa played an important role in her recovery on Wednesday night from near the Pak-Af border."

Zeenat's family and human rights organisations had earlier said they believed she was kidnapped by Pakistan's secret agencies.

On 19 August 2015, Zeenat took a rickshaw to work but never arrived there, with two cars blocking her on the road, a few men got out and abducted her in broad daylight. The story of her abduction appeared on mainstream media after her younger brother committed suicide.

"Zeenat Shahzadi today has been reunited with her family in Lahore and we are happy for her safe recovery. I am thrilled that she is home safe," human rights activist Beena Sarwar said.

Grief-stricken over her kidnapping, Shahzadi's brother Saddam Hussain had committed suicide in March last year, making her disappearance the focus of headlines again.

On February 16, 2016, a Pakistan military court sentenced Hamid to three years’ imprisonment for espionage by a court-martial and shifted him to Peshawar Central Prison.

Shahzadi remained missing. On the International Day of the Disappeared, August 30, 2016, Amnesty International issued a statement noting that she “is the first female journalist suspected to have been subject to an enforced disappearance in Pakistan. Her case highlights how this cruel practice is being used against a broader range of people, even as hundreds, possibly thousands of cases of disappearances remain unresolved”.

She is now back but at a huge cost. In March 2016, her youngest brother, 18-year-old Saddam Hussain, who had been pining for her, hung himself from a tree. He cannot be brought back and it remains to be seen how Shahzadi herself has fared. She and her family have paid a heavy price for wanting to uphold humanitarianism and the principles of social justice.

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