I accept generally wondered how Sajid Hussain apprehend so much. From Franz Kafka and Joseph Heller to Arundhati Roy and Mohammed Hanif, he did not absence any of their works. In actuality not alone did he apprehend novels thoroughly, he additionally reread abounding of them. And if by any adventitious he begin out that he had not apprehend commodity that was meant to be read, he would grab it and accomplishment it as anon as he could.
I acquainted a affectionate of celebration when, aloof aftermost year, I was talking to him about a book I was reading. It was by Dr. Viktor Frankl, and was a absolute page-turner, chronicling the writer’s adventures as a captive in the Nazi absorption camps. I apparent Hussain had not apprehend Man’s Search for Meaning. Finally, there was commodity that I was account that he – my coach — had not touched. But never one to leave a acceptable book behind, aloof a few canicule later, Hussain messaged me adage yes, indeed, it was a acceptable read.
He was a avid clairvoyant and that is apparently why Hussain was additionally an accomplished biographer and a ablaze journalist. “If you appetite to do amends with writing, you charge read, read, and read,” he generally said. He was determined on this blueprint as he accomplished me the ins and outs of journalism.
But aback a new beachcomber of the “kill and dump policy” came about, and the affair of activated disappearances already afresh engulfed Pakistan’s agitated arena of Balochistan, Hussain had to abscond the country in 2012. For abounding years afterwards that he lived like a nomad, a refugee, spending some time in one country and again affective to another.
It was not an accessible decision, abrogation abaft his accompany and ancestors aback home – his wife, 9-year-old daughter, and 5-year-old son, whom he admired dearly. During one of our aboriginal chats, he told me, “I was affected to leave.” Hussain spent months and years in banishment in Oman, Dubai, and Uganda afore catastrophe up in Sweden, one of the world’s safest countries, in 2017
But afterwards artifice Pakistan because of assurance concerns, today he has mysteriously gone missing in Sweden.
On March 28, 2020, the online account aperture Balochistan Times appear that Hussain, who was its arch editor, had gone missing on March 2 from Uppsala, a burghal about 70 kilometers from Stockholm.
Hussain’s dematerialization is abstruse for anybody who knows him well. Whether it was accompanying to his assignment or to ascent numbers of missing bodies in the Scandinavian nation, no one can allotment calm what has happened to him.
A Final Farewell to Balochistan
Pakistan is rated amid the most dangerous countries for journalists in the world. It seems to be the affliction for journalists like Sajid Hussain, who appear from areas such as the arena of Balochistan, which is burst by insurgency; a abode area journalists accept been trapped between the devil and the abysmal dejected sea.
Hussain additionally appear on arguable topics, such as animal rights abuses, insurgency, politics, and the biologic trade. He served as abettor editor and burghal editor in The Account International, the better English circadian in Pakistan. He additionally wrote beat accessories for the paper.
In September 2012, Hussain was allowance a Reuters’ announcer address a adventure on activated disappearances during a UN aggregation appointment to Balochistan. The aggregation was absorption its assignment on animal rights abuses in the province. Again agitation ensued.
Get first-read admission to above accessories yet to be released, as able-bodied as links to absorbing commentaries and all-embracing accessories from our Asia-Pacific correspondents.
A abutting acquaintance of Hussain, who requested anonymity, narrates the story: “Sajid was sitting with the announcer in his allowance at a auberge in Quetta [the basic of Balochistan] aback some aegis admiral came and agape on the door.” The adopted announcer asked Sajid to leave application addition door, which he did, about artifice afore the aegis admiral could get a authority of him.
“As anon as he came aback to his collapsed in Quetta, he emailed a affiliate of his book to me,” says his friend. The email reads, “Remember! This is the asperous draft. Don’t accomplish it accessible at any cost. If in any case commodity happens to me, duke it over to my daughter, aback she is developed up.”
Within a anniversary of the incident, Hussain larboard Pakistan for alien territory, abrogation abaft his wife and daughter, who was 1 year old at the time.
“[The character] Yossarian from Catch 22 has backward with me,” Hussain told me in a antecedent account for Dawn. “His alone ambition is to not get asleep in the war. Not accepting asleep in Balochistan is the best account you can do to yourself.”
In a agnate case, announcer Malik Siraj Akbar, who served as the above bureau arch of Circadian Times in Balochistan, was additionally was affected to leave the country because of his work.
It was a acute time in the arena aback Hussain and Akbar fled. The affront was advancing — a full-fledged war amid the Pakistani armed armament and the insurgents had broken the arena apart. The affair of activated disappearances arose from that problem, and so did the killings of abounding political workers, activists, and journalists. The affront is still animate in the region, but the acuteness is not the aforementioned afterwards the aegis enactment agitated out a barbarous crackdown.
Akbar, speaking to The Diplomat, remembers that aback then, the media had been “relatively free” alfresco of Balochistan, decidedly in Pakistan’s ample cities.
“Now, journalists say journalism in big cities like Islamabad and Karachi is as chancy as it acclimated to be in Balochistan,” Akbar says. “The PTI government is acutely at war adjoin the media. Credible editors who accept apparent Pakistan beneath aggressive law say things are absolutely worse these days.”
Under the premiership of Imran Khan, the account media seems to be a admired ambition of the government. Alone afresh Mir Shakil Ur Rehman, the buyer of the better media network, the Jang group, was arrested in a 36-year-old case. He is now in bastille and activists and journalists are calling it a claimed vendetta. Khan seems to be catalyzing the afterlife of Pakistan’s columnist freedom.
Attack on a Dissident or a Swedish Missing Person Case?
Amid these difficulties in Pakistan, Sajid Hussain vanished in Sweden.
On March 2, Hussain said goodbye to his accompany and confused to his new adaptation — a clandestine apprentice adaptation in Uppsala. He was enrolled in a master’s affairs at Uppsala University. He was additionally alive on a activity in the Iranian Department of the aforementioned university for the advance and development of the Balochi language.
His acquaintance Abdul Malik aftermost said goodbye to Hussain that aforementioned morning, afore abrogation for Stockholm himself. Malik did not in his wildest acuteness anticipate that he would anon be starting a Twitter campaign to #FindSajidHussain with added accompany and activists.
On March 30, the Community to Protect Journalists (CPJ) issued a statement about Hussain’s dematerialization and urged the Swedish authorities to accomplish every accomplishment to locate him and to ensure his safety. The International Federation of Journalists and its affiliates in both Sweden and Pakistan issued a agnate account on April 2.
Reporters Afterwards Borders (RSF) on March 30 additionally issued a press absolution on Hussain’s disappearance. The RSF account accent the targeting of across journalists by the Pakistani aegis bureau in added cases and bidding its suspicions over their captivation in Hussain’s disappearance.
But Shehnaz Baloch, Hussain’s wife, tells The Diplomat they do not appetite to allege anyone afterwards facts. “All we appetite is for the Swedish authorities, decidedly the police, to attending into the amount actual actively and actively. As for activity into abreast on his own, I do apperceive that he will never leave anywhere afterwards allegorical us.”
In a statement, appear in Balochistan Times, the family also says that “it is too aboriginal to allege anyone.”
Even in Sweden, authorities say bags go missing anniversary year.
Jenny Johansson, case administrator at Missing Bodies (Sverige), an NGO that works with the Swedish badge to acquisition missing people, said that “around 9,000 bodies go missing in Sweden [each year]. Most of the Swedish bodies go missing with brittle brainy bloom and may alike be complex in abomination or suicide.”
But she admits that aback Hussain is not Swedish, the case becomes different due to his background. “We are not afraid to one aspect of the case but are attractive into his dematerialization from all angles. The case is baffling, and we are clueless.”
The case absolutely is perplexing. Law administration admiral accept so far not begin a clue afterwards dredging lakes and carefully analytic forests and dupe for added than three weeks. Actual recently, a ages afterwards Hussain’s disappearance, the badge put up posters about the case and aggregate the account on TV as well. They are allurement the accessible if anyone has apparent Sajid Hussain on or afterwards March 2.
The analysis administrator for the case went on leave at the end of the aftermost anniversary and is not set to acknowledgment until Wednesday. The adjournment is a antecedent of abundant all-overs for Hussain’s family, who actively feel the casual of anniversary hour.
Daniel Bastard, the arch of the Asia-Pacific board at RSF, said that activated disappearances — or worse — are a new way to anticipate adopted journalists from cogent their views. The annihilation of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul’s Saudi consulate, and the way those abaft the abomination got away with it with abounding impunity, has emboldened abounding aegis agencies.
Over the aftermost few years, attacks on adopted journalists in Europe accept surged. Bastard tells the Diplomat, “No afterwards than in November 2019, the Iranian intelligence bureau launched a accommodating affairs of aggravation and threats adjoin several Iranian journalists based away — abnormally in Britain — and alive for account outlets such as the BBC, Radio Farda, the Iran International or Manoto TV channels. China too, has a almanac of abducting journalists abroad, but mostly in Asian countries.”
A Vanished Writer’s Addictive Words
If the Sajid Hussains of this apple are activity to be silenced, again the bulletin actuality beatific is actual violent.
Hussain was a atrociously honest writer, sensitive, imaginative, and with a political sense. His uncle, Ghulam Mohammed, who was asleep in 2009, belonged to a hardcore nationalist political party, but Hussain’s affections never overburdened his journalistic integrity. Baloch nationalists, separatists, and the aggressive enactment — none able the acrimony of his pen.
His sensitivities were bright not alone in his journalistic autograph but additionally in his arcane works. He lamented old acceptable account and approaches in the Baloch society, tribalism, and affecting politics.
Hussain additionally ran a claimed blog, blue-blooded “Sajid Baloch From Terra Incognita,” area he wrote abundantly about assorted affair from Baloch art and ability to sociopolitical stories.
To accomplish his point about the applesauce in the world, Hussain would adduce authors such as Franz Kafka. He was absolutely bedeviled with Kafka, assertive in aggregate he stood for. He was additionally awfully addicted of Mohammed Hanif and his aphotic humor. He generally reread Hanif’s works.
Hanif himself batten to the Diplomat about Hussain, commenting, “I acquisition it aberrant that he was affected to leave [the] country because so abounding bodies abutting to him disappeared. And now he himself has abolished in Sweden, area he had aloof started a new life. I am afraid sick.”
Indeed, the irony is about unbearable. Hussain anecdotal the belief of activated disappearances candidly and truthfully, giving a animal face to the political scenario.
Some of his words abide to ache me today, afterwards his own disappearance.
In a previous interview for The Diplomat, Hussain batten about missing persons. “The asleep do not abode me as abundant as the missing do,” he said. “To acquaint the truth, I feel adequate aback I apprehend about the analysis of a missing person’s body. But the belief of those admiring blindfolded in tiny, aphotic beef for years accomplish me abstain dark, chock-full places.”
Now it is Hussain’s disappearance that is addictive his friends, family, and colleagues. Not alive about the abode of a acquaintance or a ancestors affiliate is torturous. Balochistan is the home of about 6,000 missing persons; that agency bags of families are active in torture. Hussain was a articulation for these blurred victims — and now they appetite their articulation to appear back.
Even added addictive is one affiliate of Sajid Hussain’s book, meant for his daughter. The affiliate involves a chat amid a doctor and an ambulance driver, who has best up a burst body. An anonymous body.
Shah Meer Baloch is a announcer based in Pakistan. He has had his assignment appear in New York Times, The Guardian, Deutsche Welle, The National, The Diplomat, Circadian Dawn, Firstpost, Herald magazine, and Balochistan Times.
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