A prominent Pakistani activist who had campaigned for the rights of the country’s ethnic Baluch minority has been found dead in Toronto after she went missing in Canada's largest city.
Pakistani lawmaker Akhtar Mengal, who is also the leader of the Balochistan National Party (BNP), told RFE/RL that the cause of Karima Mehrab Baloch’s death was not yet known.
Police in Toronto issued an appeal after Baloch, 37, went missing on December 20, adding that they were “concerned for her safety.”
Baloch had been living in Canada since 2015 after terrorism charges were filed against her in Pakistan.
A vocal critic of the Pakistani security service and state, she had campaigned against thousands of disappearances in the country’s southwestern province of Balochistan, which has been the scene of a long-running separatist insurgency.
"She didn't go abroad because she wanted to, but because ... open activism in Pakistan had become impossible," her sister Mahganj Baloch told BBC Urdu on December 22, adding that her death was "not only a tragedy for the family, but also for the [Baluch] national movement."
Local activists say thousands of campaigners have gone missing in recent years. The military denies accusations that it is brutally suppressing the region’s aspirations for autonomy.
The Baloch Students Organization, a banned activist group in Pakistan that Baloch headed for several years, declared 40 days of mourning over her death.
Describing the death as “deeply shocking,” the London-based human rights watchdog Amnesty International called for an immediate and effective investigation.
In May, an exiled ethnic Baluch journalist who had been reporting on the insurgency and counterinsurgency operations in Balochistan was found dead in Sweden.
Local police said Sajid Hussain’s body was recovered from a river in the city of Uppsala two months after he disappeared.