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Relatives say anti-Taliban Pakistani activist is missing

Associated Press logo Associated Press 9/01/2017 By ASIF SHAHZAD, Associated Press

ISLAMABAD — A Pakistani university professor, poet and rights activist who has been critical of the Taliban and also of the government's efforts against militants, has been missing since last week, his family said Monday.

Salman Haider disappeared on Friday, his brother Faraz Haider said. He said Salman's wife got a text message on her phone to go and collect his car from a roadside on Islamabad's outskirts.

Pakistan's ministry of interior on Monday ordered police to step up efforts to find the missing activist. No militant group has so far claimed that it abducted the activist and no government department or intelligence agency has said it detained or arrested him.

Local media have reported that a number of other activists like Salman Haider — who ran popular social media accounts known for liberal and leftist views — have also gone missing. These social media accounts — some of which are no longer accessible — often highlight what they describe as Pakistan's dual policy of fighting some militants but supporting others.

Pakistan's telecommunication department responsible for blocking social media and controlling the internet in Pakistan did not respond to a request for comment.

Salman Haider has also been participating in rallies and protests against disappearances of nationalists and separatists from Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province who are usually detained by intelligence agencies on charges of anti-state activities. The fate of many of these "missing persons" remains unknown.

Left-leaning Pakistan's People's Party submitted Monday a request in parliament, seeking an answer from the Interior Ministry on the disappearances, calling them a planned and coordinated crackdown to silence voices critical of state policies.

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