Islamabad: Pakistani dissidents have accused the country’s “deep state”, that is, the military and an array of intelligence and security outfits of Pakistan, of targeting its critics living in exile abroad, according to a media report.
These dissidents, living in exile in well-governed democracies with sturdy rule of law in place, are pursued by killers and conspirators for which they unanimously accuse Pakistan’s deep state, reported Canada-based think tank, International Forum for Rights and Security (IFFRAS).
Reportedly, a chain of Pakistani dissidents is being targeted in the US, the UK, the Netherlands and France. According to the media reports of several countries where Pakistani dissidents have taken refuge, the threat is increasing and Pakistani nationals living in exile are concerned for their personal safety.
The dissidents, including journalists, bloggers and analysts have unanimously held the Pakistani military, especially the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), responsible for this. Pakistan’s attempts to stifle the voice of dissent are reflected in several cases.
In December 2020, Karima Baloch, who campaigned for an independent Baluchistan, was mysteriously found dead in Toronto, Canada. In a similar fashion, Journalist Sajid Hussain, known for advocating human rights violations in Baluchistan, disappeared in March 2020 in Uppsala, Sweden, before being found dead in a river two months later, according to the think tank.
The Pakistan-origin British are “very infiltrated” by those loyal to the military, said the exiled analyst and writer, Ayesha Siddiqa, who wrote Pakistan Army Inc. exposing the multi-billion business dealings by the Pakistan Army.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has expressed concern regarding the surveillance of exiled Pakistani journalists. “We are aware of a number of cases that have not been made public. It’s widely understood that these types of threats could only come from Pakistan’s military or intelligence services,” the think tank quoted CPJ’s Steven Butler as saying.
According to the International Federation of Journalists, Pakistan is the world’s fifth most dangerous country for journalists. As per a 2020 world press freedom index, Reporters Without Borders ranked Pakistan 145th out of 180 countries.