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Dr Safdar Sarki : Not Missing, But Unlawfully Detained For 18 Months !

More than a year and a half after his initial forced disappearance, Dr Safder Sarki, an American citizen, was finally declared under custody of Pakistani police. Dr Sarki had been campaigning for secularism and democracy, and specifically for the protection of the rights of ethnic and religious minorities in Pakistan.

On Friday, February 24, 2006, Dr. Safdar Sarki, was forcefully taken from his temporary Karachi residence by personnel linked to Pakistanís intelligence agencies. According to witness reports, Dr. Sarki was severely beaten for about an hour at his apartment by Pakistani security personnel before being blindfolded and moved to an unknown location. Since then, his family and friends worked relentlessly to determine his whereabouts. US congressional leaders, US State Department, and the international community have demanded the whereabouts and release of Dr. Sarki. Unfortunately, Pakistani authorities had all along denied his arrest. Even in Summer 2006, in response to a petition in Sindh High Court, the Government submitted an affidavit negating any knowledge of his location or whereabouts.

In the light of reinstatement of Mr. Iftikaher Chaudary as chief Justice of Pakistan, there was renewed hope among Dr. Sarki's family and friends which led to filing of a new petition by Mr Abdul Latif Memon, a Senior Advocate, in August 2007. On October 11th, 2007, after a few hearings of of this case, the Supreme Court based on the evidences produced decreed that Dr Sarki indeed is a victim of forced-disappearances by the Government. The Court also demanded the Attorney General of Pakistan to produce Mr Sarki immediately. Surprisingly, within the matter of few hours, the Sakran (Balochistan) police announced the 'arrest' of Mr Sarki on the alleged charges of possession of weapons.

On 29th October 2007, the Supreme Court officially informed Dr Sarki's family that he is under custody of Sakran police. The Supreme Court also ordered the Secretary of Health of Balochistan to ensure the proper medical treatment and hospitalization of Mr. Sarki; that medical treatment be provided in the course of the day; and that he be allowed to meet his family members.

Unfortunately, till today, this order has not been fully implemented. He has not received proper medical treatment, and has not been admitted to a hospital, and his family had restricted access to him. However, US Consul General Ms. Kay Anske managed to meet Dr. Safdar Sarki for 30 minutes or so and assured him that proper legal and medical assistance would be provided.

On the same day, i.e. November 2nd, 2007, the local session judge granted bail to Dr Sarki after hearing the arguments by Mr. Abdul Latif Memon and ordered his immediate release.

The court issued sealed release orders and even assigned dispatch numbers (1972, 1973) to be delivered in person by the court clerk to the relevant police authorities.

However, these released orders never reached the police. After two hours the local court staff informed Mr. Memon via phone about the sudden cancellation of the orders, the transfer of the current session judge, and the appointment of a new session court judge.

In the current state of affairs of Pakistan, Dr. Sarki's family, his friends, and the general human rights activists all over the world are gravely concerned over the gross injustices inflicted upon a US citizen and campaigner for secularism and democracy in Pakistan.

More than ever, we implore the US government and the international community to defend justice and humanity, and take the necessary steps to secure the release of Dr. Safdar Sarki.

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