Pakistan: Fears for disappeared poet and activist

Deputy secretary-general of the socialist Awami Workers Party (AWP) Ismat Shahjahan expressed deep concern about the mysterious disappearance of renowned literary figure, university lecturer and progressive activist Salman Haider from the outskirts of Islamabad on January 6.

That night, Haider’s wife received a message from an unknown number informing her that Haider’s car could be picked up from Koral Chowk. The AWP calls on the authorities to use all of the means at their disposal to identify his whereabouts and secure his immediate safe release.

Haider is a faculty member in the Gender Studies Department at Fatima Jinnah Women’s University and is a well-known progressive poet, playwright and theatre actor. He gained widespread fame on social media a few years ago for his satirical poems on social issues. On countless occasions, he has come out in support of the oppressed across Pakistan.

Shahjahan said the AWP demands a transparent investigation into the matter. With all of the investment that the federal government has made in boosting the authorities’ surveillance capabilities in the capital, especially the countless surveillance cameras set up all across the city, it should be possible to trace Haider’s whereabouts swiftly.

The AWP also calls upon the literary community of Pakistan to mobilise support for his immediate and safe recovery, she said.

[Farman Ali is the AWP information secretary.]

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