Man disappears from Dubai surfaces in Karachi jail

After over five months since his “enforced disappearance” from Dubai, missing Abdul Hafeez Zehri has been surfaced in a jail in Karachi, his sister has confirmed. The family members said that they have seen him in jail and expressed relief that at least they know that he is alive.

“People are overjoyed when they find something trivial that they have lost, and we have found our missing brother – there is no way to describe how happy we are at the moment”, Fatima Baloch, the sister of Hafeez Zehri, told BBC Urdu. She said that her thirteen-year-old brother Majeed Baloch had been picked up and subsequently killed in custody. Similarly, her father was also shot dead by unknown armed men. She said that now the disappearance of her brother had caused immense grief for her family and his reappearance is nothing short of a blessing.

Abdul Hafeez Zehri was “forcibly disappeared” by the Emirati Intelligence Forces from Dubai on 26 January this year. He was kept in confinement for a few days and then extradited to Pakistan. His family members, Baloch human rights campaigners and political workers expressed alarm over his deportation and said that his life is in danger in Pakistan.

Hafeez Zehri comes from district Khuzdar in Balochistan where he lived and spent most of his life with his family. They owned and operated a construction business and lived a moderate life. Being the eldest among his siblings, Abdul Hafeez had to operate the business alongside his father, Haji Ramzan. Everything was going good until tragedy struck – Hafeez’s thirteen-year-old brother Majeed Zehri was abducted in October 2011 and his mutilated dead body was found a few days later. In February, Hafeez’s elderly father Haji Ramzan was killed by unknown assailants in Khuzdar’s Ferozabad. A hand grenade was also hurled in their house and their construction machinery was burnt down. The houses of the farmers working on their agricultural lands were also burnt.

Abdul Hafeez knew that he and his family were in danger. He left everything behind and moved to Dubai in 2012 and established a business selling building materials. His family members joined him there in 2014.

Fatima Baloch said that even though her brother was picked up in UAE, the Pakistani officials have levelled “baseless allegations” against him. She expressed hope that her brother will be freed soon.

Fatima Baloch said that the family members knew that Abdul Hafeez was deported to Pakistan, but they had no clue where he was in Pakistan and what was his condition. She said that the family members filed a petition in the Sindh High Court which was accepted on March 29, 2022. In a hearing on April 14, the court was told that Hafeez Zehri had been picked up by the Counter-Terrorism Department from Karachi.

She said that the forces had made baseless allegations against him which is why he is in jail right now. But the fact that he is alive is a huge blessing for us. She said that we also saw him in the central jail and he seemed well.

In an FIR against Hafeez Zehri, the Pakistani forces have claimed that he was arrested from the Mubarak Shaheed Road in Karachi on March 31, despite the mountain of evidence that he was picked up from Dubai two months earlier and deported to Pakistan in February. The forces also claimed in the FIR that they had recovered a 30 calibre pistol and ammunition from him.

It is pertinent to mention that Hafeez’s cousin Rashid Hussain Baloch was also picked up by the Emirati Intelligence Forces in December 2018, kept in confinement for over six months and then deported to Pakistan in June 2019. His family members have been protesting for his safe release ever since but to no avail. Human rights groups have appealed to authorities in UAE and Pakistan for his safe release, but their pleas have fallen on deaf ears. Unlike Abdul Hafeez, Rashid Hussain remains missing to this day.

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