ISLAMABAD (AP) — The United States has expressed concern over the disappearance of five Pakistani anti-Taliban activists and bloggers who mysteriously went missing last week, incidents that have triggered an outcry from human right groups.
Dozens of activists rallied in the port city of Karachi for the second time late on Thursday, demanding the five men be accounted for. In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the U.S. is taking the disappearances “very seriously” and will “continue to monitor the situation in Pakistan.”
Toner also welcomed a statement by Pakistan’s interior ministry, which asked police to step up efforts to find the missing. Among the five are university professor Salman Haider, known for criticizing the Taliban and the government over its alleged inaction against militants, and Shiite activist Samar Abbas, who heads the Civil Progressive Alliance Pakistan.
No militant group has so far claimed abducting the activists and no government department or intelligence agency has said it detained or arrested any one of the five.
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Activist Syed Talib Abbas said on Friday that none of the missing men have been found so far.
Haider’s brother Zeeshan Haider said the family had not had any contact with him since he sent a text message to his wife’s mobile phone last Friday, asking her to go to a roadside on Islamabad’s outskirts and collect his car, which was found there.
Pakistan’s government has been under pressure since the activists disappeared, and the parliament has demanded an investigation. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali khan promised the families of missing men that all efforts would be made to find them.
Benjamin Ismail, the Asia-Pacific head at Reporters Without Borders, on Friday said the disappearances were “shocking and extremely worrying” and urged authorities to determine the motives and bring those behind them to justice.