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Pakistani Army Denies Temporary Abduction Of Journalist Critic

FILE: Major General Asif Ghafoor
FILE: Major General Asif Ghafoor

Pakistan's army denied it was involved in the abduction of a Pakistani-British journalist and rights activist who openly criticized the country’s military.

"[The] army is not behind the abduction of Gul Bukhari," the military’s chief spokesman, Major General Asif Ghafoor, told reporters late on June 8. "We actually want a thorough investigation in this case."

It was a rare on-the-record denial of a specific case for the military, which routinely says it is not involved in disappearances of critics.

In her first comment since the abduction, Bukhari on June 10 said in a tweet, without naming anyone: "Is there any shame? Any ethics, any grace? You just picked me?"

Bukhari has been a vocal critic of Pakistan's powerful military on social media in the run-up to the July 25 general election, accusing it of meddling in politics.

She has also defended former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who clashed with the military before the Supreme Court forced him from office last year.

She was abducted on June 6 and held for several hours by unknown men in the eastern city of Lahore before being freed, her family and colleagues said.

The 52-year-old Bukhari's abduction occurred a day after a military spokesman warned at a press conference that it is monitoring citizens who criticize Pakistan, amid a growing crackdown on free speech in the country.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters