Top official of Pakistan’s financial regulatory agency ‘suspiciously’ missing from Islamabad

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Sajid Gondal, the Additional Joint Director of Pakistan’s financial regulatory agency Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), went missing in the federal capital Islamabad on Thursday night. His car was found parked near the National Agriculture Research Center (NARC) on Friday. The authorities are reportedly investigating the case.

According to the details, Gondal’s car was found parked near NARC in Shehzad Town, Islamabad, on Friday morning by the police. His family claims that he went missing on Thursday night. The SHO Shehzad Town told media that they received an emergency call around 11 a.m. on Friday and secured Gondal’s car. He said that the car was found parked on the sidewalk with doors unlocked and the keys lodged in the ignition switch.

Gondal’s family told the media that they have informed the Police about the incident and are attempting to file a report for his disappearance. His wife told the media that he was stressed and under pressure for the past few days, but did not disclose the underlying reason for his condition.

She said that Gondal went to his farmhouse in the evening. She was informed about his disappearance roughly around 7:30 p.m.

Gondal’s disappearance actuated a heated debate on social media. Some considered it an incident of ‘enforced disappearance’, others implied that his ‘suspicious’ disappearance might be linked to his unconfirmed ties with Ahmed Noorani, the investigative journalist who exposed the details the assets of the CPEC chief General Asim Saleem Bajwa, engendering a widespread public outcry against him and forcing him to step down as the special assistant to the prime minister of Pakistan. Many surmise that Gondal might have been the whistleblower who disclosed the details of Bajwa’s overseas assets to Noorani, and, therefore, might have been abducted by the Pakistani security forces or the intelligence agencies.

Noorani, however, denied the speculations. He told BBC Urdu that Gondal had no ties to him or to the report.

Gondal was a former correspondent of Dawn, a news agency, and the incumbent Additional Joint Director of SECP – the financial regulatory agency of Pakistan that oversees the Pakistani capital market.

In the wake of his disappearance, journalists and activists took to the social media to demand his immediate release and appeal to the authorities to investigate the incident. Amnesty International, a UK-based international human rights organization, called upon the authorities to investigate his whereabouts immediately. “Pakistan: Sajid Gondal, a former journalist and an official with the SECP is missing and feared to have been disappeared. We call upon the authorities to establish his whereabouts immediately. #BringBackSajidGondal”, it tweeted.

Nadeem Malik, a prominent journalist and the president of Samaa TV, tweeted: “Sajid Gondal of Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan ((SECP) is missing. Prime Minister must take notice and ensure recovery. An unfortunate incident.”

Bushra Gohar, a former member of the Pakistani parliament, urged the human rights committees to take urgent notice of Gondal’s disappearance. ”Please take urgent notice of #SECP official, #SajidGondal’s abduction from #Islamabad allegedly by security agencies”, she tweeted.

Interestingly Mr Gondal’s car was recovered near a research centre of Pakistan’s Agricultural Ministry. In Pakistan, fearing for their safety, activists use the name of ministry of Agriculture when they refer to Pakistan’s secretive agencies. Many believe presence of Gondal’s car near the Agricultural research centre was a message.

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