Arrest warrants against a missing person – TBP Editorial

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On 16th April 2020, an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Pakistan issued non-bailable arrest warrants against 15 people, allegedly belonging to the banned Balochistan Liberation Army, for being involved in an attack on the Chinese consulate on November 23, 2018.

The ATC was hearing the cases at the anti-terrorism complex of the Karachi Central Jail. Surprisingly, the court also declared Rahid Hussain an absconder along with others. The said person has been missing for a year and a half now and his family has been under protest for his safe release in front of Karachi Press Club till date.

On 26th December 2018, Rashid Hussain’s family said that he was abducted by Emirati officials in UAE, where he was living in exile since August 2017.

The claim was seconded by Amnesty International’s UAE chapter who in their document #MDE 25/9880/2019, addressed to Ministry of Foreign Affairs—UAE govt— had requested that the whereabouts of Mr. Hussain be revealed, and he must be allowed private communication with his family. Amnesty International in its letter called him an ‘activist’.

However, after the six months of alleged abduction of Mr. Hussain, the Pakistani TV channels aired news claiming that he was arrested in UAE on request of Pakistani authorities and has been deported to Pakistan in collaboration with Interpol.

Nevertheless, Mr. Hussain was never produced in front of the court and on 16th April 2020, after a year and a half, a Pakistani court declared him an absconder. This is surprising as media channels in Pakistan had claimed that Rashid was already under detention of Pakistani authorities.

TBP has seen an exit certificate issued by UAE’s Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship, which shows that Rashid Hussain left the UAE from Al-Bateen airport on 22 June for Nushki, Pakistan. This indicates Mr. Hussain was deported on a chartered jet as Al-Bateen airport’s main tenants include companies that operate private jet services. The airport is also host to aviation assets of UAE government including UAE Naval Aviation and Abu Dhabi Police Department air wing. Similarly, Nushki does not have an airport, the nearest airport is in Dalbandin, which is under complete military control and no civilian flights operate from the facility.

Family of Rashid Hussain and the Vice-Chairperson of Voice for Baloch Missing Person, Mama Qadeer Baloch, both have claimed in separate press conferences that they have undeniable proof that Mr. Hussain is under the custody of Pakistani authorities and said that declaring him an absconder has increased risks to his safety and life.

This whole situation has raised several questions on Pakistan’s justice system. The way Pakistan and UAE collaborated, in this case, reveals the gross violation of human rights.

Pakistani authorities have not officially rejected the claim that Mr. Hussain was deported from UAE on their behest and in collaboration with Interpol. No response was shown even after the court issued arrest warrants for the same person. However, both Sindh Rangers and Karachi’s Aviation Authorities have denied the detention of Rashid with them.

On the internet, a single purpose website is established to count the number of days since Mr. Hussain went missing and the numbers on the website show “1 year, 3 months, 3 weeks and 2 days.” Here’s hoping this counting is not for long and Rashid is produced before the courts to prove his innocence.

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