Asia

Pakistan student: 'I was tortured by hardline Islamists'

Students in Lahore, Pakistan (24 October 2012) Image copyright AFP
Image caption The abduction of the student in Lahore has caused concern among human rights groups

A Pakistani student has said he was abducted and badly beaten by hardline Islamist students after posting tweets in support of five liberal bloggers who have gone missing.

The student said he needed hospital treatment after he was blindfolded for several hours and tortured.

No-one at Punjab University responded to his cries for help, he said.

The five bloggers disappeared after they condemned extremism and the role of the military in Pakistan.

The university authorities say they are investigating the latest incident.

The ExpressTribune said that Suhail Ahmad was abducted by more than 14 members of the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami group who forced their way into his Lahore hostel room on Monday evening.

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The student told the newspaper that a blanket was put over his head throughout his ordeal and that no security guards responded to his pleas for help.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Protests to demand the safe return of the bloggers have been held in Lahore

He said he was only released when senior Jamaat-e-Islami members intervened on his behalf.

Last week hundreds of people held protests across the country to demand the authorities trace the activists, who disappeared earlier in January.

No group has said it is holding them.

Pakistan's parliament has expressed grave concern over their fates.

The government says it is investigating the case of one of the four, Salman Haider, who has campaigned against enforced disappearances in Balochistan.

Supporters of the men accuse the security services of having secretly arrested them.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Salman Haider teaches at Fatima Jinnah Women's University in Rawalpindi

The BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Islamabad says that the disappearances have alarmed liberals in Pakistan, where the military has long promoted a hardline Islamist narrative as a bulwark to protect its financial and security interests.

Salman Haider, a well-known poet and university professor, was last seen in Islamabad on 6 January, two days after bloggers Waqas Goraya and his cousin Asim Saeed went missing in Lahore.

Two other bloggers, one named as polio sufferer Ahmed Raza Naseer, are also reported to have disappeared in or near Lahore.

Pakistan is one of the the world's most dangerous countries for reporters and human rights activists, and critics of the powerful military have been detained, beaten or killed.

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