Jun 9, 2007

Missing Pakistani government critic found tortured

A Pakistani lawyer who vanished this week after filing a court case against government officials over the recent violence in Karachi claimed Friday that unknown kidnappers tortured him in retribution and dumped him on the street.

Iqbal Kazmi had held the chief minister of the southern Sindh province, Arbab Rahim, and other high officials responsible for the May 12 violence between government supporters and opposition activists that claimed 41 lives.

‘Unknown gunmen abducted me at gunpoint on June 6 as I was on my way home,’ he told journalists after local police found him lying in bushes near a railway station in the southern port city.

Kazmi claimed his abductors wanted to punish him for his criticism of the authorities and also threatened to murder his family if he did not leave the city within five days.

‘They beat me up several times and burned me with cigarettes on my back, chest and genitals, asking how I could dare to challenge the government,’ he said.

The kidnappers also wanted to know whether Kazmi was linked with opposition leader Imran Khan, a prominent critic of the national and provincial government.

Khan last month came into further conflict with the pro-Musharraf Mutahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) that rules Karachi when he accused the group of playing a leading role in the violence.

Clashes erupted as Pakistan’s suspended chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry arrived in the city to address lawyers. More than 150 people were also injured, many of them suffering gunshot wounds.

The former cricket star and head of Tehrik-i-Insaf, or Movement for Justice Party, is currently consulting legal experts in London before filing a terrorism case against Altaf Hussain, the head of the MQM.

Hussain is a British citizen and runs the party from its head office in the capital.

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