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Wife, Nephew Of Pashtun Leader Held In Custody In Pakistan Say He Fears For His Life


Ali Wazir

The family of Pakistani lawmaker and Pashtun rights leader Ali Wazir, who is in custody on a sedition charge, say he fears his life is in danger.

His wife and nephew told RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal on December 20 that the prominent rights activist had been taken to the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD).

Wazir spoke to his wife by telephone from the hospital and told her he faces a looming threat to his life.

He is diabetic but the disorder is not at a stage that can critically impact his health, Saira Ali said. But her husband told her, “They will kill me and then will claim I died of some illness.”

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Two police officials reject the claim, telling Radio Mashaal the lawmaker, who represents the South Waziristan tribal district of the northwest Pakistan, is well.

“He has not been tortured” in custody and was taken to the NICVD on December 19 for a “routine checkup,” they said. The officials requested anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Saira Ali said her husband should not be kept in custody because he has not committed any crime.

An anti-terrorism court in Karachi on December 19 handed him over to be held in custody for 12 days over the sedition charge, which he rejects.

Alamgir Wazir, his nephew, said he has contacted the leader of the nationalist Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PMAP), some local elders, and politicians.

Neither his wife nor his nephew could clarify whom Wazir was facing danger from while in police custody.

The family’s claim that Wazir’s life is in danger was made hours after thousands of ethnic Pashtun supporters of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) demanded his immediate release at a rally in the town of Janikhel in northwestern Pakistan.

Mehmood Khan Achakzai, the chairman of the PMAP, issued a statement, expressing concern about the “imminent threat to the life of Ali Wazir,” warning the government of Sindh Province that “any harm” to his life will have “unimaginable consequences.”

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said in a tweet that it was “deeply concerned at the systematic way” the lawmaker “has been singled out consistently on preposterous charges of being 'anti-state,'" demanding authorities “unconditionally” release him.

The provincial government of Sindh has not commented on the claims pertaining to threats to Wazir’s life, but Mohsin Dawar, lawmaker and a PTM leader, tweeted that the information minister of the province had arranged a meeting of a PTM member with Ali Wazir and said he was well.

Wazir was arrested in Peshawar on December 16 after the case was lodged against him in Karachi, alleging he made remarks against the state during an unsanctioned rally 10 days earlier.

Thousands of people on December 18 rallied in dozens of cities and towns in northwestern Pakistan and elsewhere to protest against his arrest.

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    Radio Mashaal

    Radio Mashaal is a public-service broadcaster providing a powerful alternative to extremist propaganda in Pakistan's remote tribal regions along the border with Afghanistan.

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