Eleven years ago this week a good man was snatched off the streets of Pakistan by the intelligence services whilst collecting his young children from school, writes Dr Abdul Wahid.
Since that day on Friday 11th May 2012, no one has seen Naveed Butt. There is no official confirmation of his well-being or whereabouts — or even that he is still alive.
It is believed — with good reason — that Naveed was abducted by intelligence personnel of the Pakistani state, whilst Yousaf Raza Gillani was the Prime Minister and General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was the Chief of the Army Staff. After sustained efforts his family came to know via unofficial channels that he had been abducted and interrogated under torture.
Naveed “disappeared,” like so many others, in a manner that we are more used to hearing about in a South American dictatorship than in Pakistan — where the organisation Defence of Human Rights Pakistan estimates about 1,357 are still missing. Naveed is one of those people.
A father of four children, a qualified electrical engineer, he was not officially arrested or charged with any offence under the law of Pakistan. He has never been presented before any court to contest his arbitrary and incommunicado detention. Naveed has not harmed anyone, nor threatened to harm anyone. Yet he was abducted and “disappeared” from public sight.
However, in his role as the Official Spokesman of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Pakistan, he undertook peaceful political activism, advocating for the re-establishment the Khilafah as the system of governance on the method of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in Pakistan as opposed to the corrupt democratic system which was and is a legacy of colonialism.
Naveed openly and courageously criticised the subservience to America of successive civilian governments and military dictators alike. Naveed severely criticised Pakistan’s rulers for releasing the American spy Raymond Davis after Davis killed two Pakistanis in Lahore Pakistan on 27th January 2011 and for failing to protect Pakistan from the American aggression on Abottabad.
Due to Naveed’s activism and speaking out for Islam and against Pakistani government’s colonial subservience, he faced frequent threats from the Pakistani state, being arrested multiple times and receiving threatening phone calls from unknown numbers.
Over the years, Naveed’s family have made multiple applications to various courts in Pakistan — most recently escalating his case to the Islamabad High Court.
Mr Butt’s wife said: “My husband Naveed Butt is a very soft hearted and loving person. He is the beloved of his whole family. His sisters and brother are devastated due to his prolonged absence. We have three sons and one daughter. Our youngest son was only two years old at the time of his abduction.
“Today, when he asks questions about his father, I say to him that he is detained for the crime of advocating for Islam and only Allah will free him. My daughter misses her father more than ever and keeps on praying for his release day and night.
“Raising the word of truth is my husband’s only crime. That is why, I demand from the people of power and the rulers to release him immediately.”
I am grateful to advocacy group CAGE for their research and profile of this case, which can be found here.
Dr Abdul Wahid is currently the Chairman of the UK Executive Committee of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain. He has been published on the websites of Foreign Affairs, Open Democracy, the Times Higher Educational Supplement and Prospect Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @AbdulWahidHT.