Two months after his unexplained disappearance, a Pakistani journalist who had been critically reporting on the separatist insurgency and Pakistani military counterinsurgency operations in the restive southwestern province of Balochistan has been found dead in Sweden.
In a statement updated on May 1, Swedish police said they have identified a body found in a river in the city of Uppsala as Sajid Hussain, who disappeared in early March.
The police said that an autopsy has been conducted and investigators are now waiting for certain answers from the analysis. "The autopsy has led to the conclusion that suspicion of a crime has decreased, but still some police investigation actions will be taken,” the statement noted.
In Stockholm, Hussain’s friend Taj Baloch confirmed that his body had been discovered by police in the city of Uppsala.
“The body is in police’s possession. We do not know much about the physical circumstances of the body,” he said. “Police will hand over the body after postmortem. That may take a week or more. The process is likely to start on Monday [May 4].”
Balochistan Times, the website Hussain edited, also announced his death on May 1. The website covers the two-decade-long separatist conflict in his native Balochistan. Thousands have died and hundreds of thousands have been displaced by in the region due to separatist attacks, sectarian violence, and operations by Pakistani security forces.
Hussain disappeared on March 2 and was last seen at a gas station in Uppsala city, police had said earlier.
Abdullah Abbas, a human right activist and family friend of the deceased, said the police had discovered an unidentified dead body from a river in Uppsala on April 23.
“After a week of investigation, they confirmed to the family on Thursday [April 30] evening, that it was Sajid’s body,” Abbas said. “We do not know anything so far, and cause of his death remains unknown to us. We also do not know when he actually died.”
Hussain’s family and Pakistani and global rights watchdogs had demanded Swedish authorities investigate his mysterious disappearance. They are now demanding that authorities investigate his death.
“As long as a crime is not excluded, there is still a risk that his death could be related to his job as a journalist and editor-in-chief for the Balochistan Times” said Erik Halkjaer, president of Reporters Without Borders Sweden, on May 1.
Hussain’s family had said previously that he left Pakistan in 2012 after facing death threats because of his reporting. After living in the Middle East and Africa for years, Hussain arrived in Sweden in September 2017 to seek asylum.
His reporting was mainly concentrated on the continued unrest in Balochistan. He documented human rights abuses, including forced disappearances.
Kiyya Baloch, a freelance journalist, reports on the insurgency, politics, militancy, and sectarian violence in Balochistan.
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story had an error in translating a Swedish police statement. It has been updated with the accurate translation.