Aasim Saeed belonged to a group of five liberal social media activists kidnapped in Pakistan in January 2017 before being released after several weeks. The Pakistani military has repeatedly denied any involvement in the case.
Saeed told the BBC that he had been involved in a Facebook page before his kidnapping, which is critical of Pakistan’s military establishment, Mochi, “because since the founding of Pakistan, they have always ruled us directly or indirectly.”
Pakistan was ruled by the military almost half its 70 years.
Mr. Saeed worked in Singapore, but visited Pakistan in January 2017 for his brother’s wedding, when he said that some men arrived in his house in civilian clothes and ordered him into a car.
“Do you know why you were picked up?” “I have no idea.” Then he began to beat me and said, “Let’s talk about Mochi.”
Mr Saeed told the BBC that he had been asked to pass the passwords to his e-mail accounts and mobile phone before he was taken to a secret facility where he, along with men whom he called “religious terrorists” was held.
The Independent Commission on Human Rights of Pakistan reported that by 2016, 728 people had been “disappeared”. The Pakistani intelligence services were accused of “disappearing”, “social and ethnic-nationalist activists” as well as those who accused connections with militant groups, instead of producing them in court.
Authorities in Pakistan have often said that the security services are unfairly blamed for disappearances and that the number of missing people is excessive. There are few reports first hand about what happens with those in custody. Mr. Saeed said he had been beaten with a leather tape.
“I can not remember what happened, I fell, and someone has held my neck in my feet, and the other has beaten and beaten and beaten.” He describes that his arms and back are left “purple, blue and back”.
In another detention center, which he believes to be near the capital, Islamabad, Saeed says he has been subjected to polygraph tests, while he has repeatedly been consulted on links to the Indian intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
“Have you ever been associated with RAW?” “Who is your handler?” “Have you ever received money from RAW?”
He rejects all connections to foreign intelligence agencies and says interrogators analyzed his Facebook posts and asked him why he was “critical of the army”.
In May 2017, Human Rights Watch expressed concern that the Pakistani government “would go against contradiction to Internet dissent at the expense of fundamental rights”.
Protests were held in other cities in Pakistan by other liberal activists calling for the release of Mr. Saeed and the other “missing bloggers” when they became known. Mr. Saeed, however, says he believes he is being killed because “normally missing people do not go home”.
While pressure on the Pakistani authorities to provide information on the whereabouts of bloggers, a counter-campaign was launched by right-wing religious clerics and television anchors who accused them of having committed blasphemy.
Blasphemy is legally punishable in Pakistan and a number of the defendants were murdered by Lynch-Mobs.
Mr. Saeed returned to detention after several weeks. He told the BBC that he only then noticed that he had been accused of blasphemy. He denies any involvement in the writing of blasphemous material.
One of the other missing bloggers has claimed that blasphemy is an attempt to “block us – threaten our families – to put pressure on us.”
Mr. Saeed returned to Singapore shortly after his release and came to Britain in September to visit friends. He told the BBC that he had decided to apply for asylum as the conditions of his employment in Singapore meant he had no guarantee that he could live there if he ever lost his job and his life would be in danger he returned to Pakistan.
Saeed told the BBC that he did not regret his activism because “people have to get up”.
Source : BBC NEWS