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article imagePakistani anti-drone campaigner due to testify in Europe abducted

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By Ken Hanly     Feb 12, 2014 in World
Islamabad - A prominent Pakistani anti-drone campaigner was abducted from his home by about 20 armed men shortly after midnight on February 5. He has not been seen since.
A court in Pakistan ordered Pakistan intelligence agencies to produce Karim Khan a well-known anti-drone activist by the end of February or to deny categorically that they are holding him. The chief of Khan's legal team Shehzad Akbar said that the kidnapping of Khan from his house in Rawalpindi was "a signature government abduction" and that intelligence agencies were behind the abduction and disappearance of Khan.
Khan had been scheduled to fly to Europe on February 15 to testify on U.S. drone strikes before members of the European Parliament, UK legislators in London and the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Khan's s 17-year old son, and his brother were killed in a drone strike in North Waziristan on December 31, 2009.
Khan has fought a constant legal battle against the U.S. including the filing of a law suit that names the then-CIA station chief in Pakistan in the Islamabad High Court in 2010. That criminal case along with another civil suit for $500 million in damages is still ongoing.
The local police claimed that they had no knowledge of the raid on Khan's home. Family members say that about 20 armed men stormed the house breaking through the chains and bolts on the gates. Khan's brother-in-law said: "When they went inside, the first thing they did, they took their guns out and started shouting. Then they picked up Karim Khan, and searched the house," Khan's family said the men, some of whom wore uniforms of the Punjab police, did not say who they were, or why they were detaining Khan. Khan's lawyer said: “We lodged a report with the local police but they denied having picked him up. I checked with the central office of the police and they have no such arrest in their record, it seems to be work of the intelligence agencies,”
At first, the police would not file a report on the incident and did so only on February 10 after a court ordered them to do so, filing a First Information Report on a kidnapping case against "unidentified persons". The family at present only wants to know who has custody of Khan and what crime he is being accused of.
The Dutch government, UK legislator Tom Watson, and Hans-Christian Strobele a German MP raised the Khan issue with the Pakistani government. Watson said: "I am extremely concerned for the safety of drone victim and journalist Karim Khan whom I invited to speak to MPs this month […] Given the timing, I am concerned that there may be a connection between his disappearance and his intention to speak to members of parliament. I urge both the UK and Pakistani governments to do everything in their power to secure Karim’s release, and support his visit to parliament,"
Khan's lawyer doubts that the court order to produce Khan by Feb. 20 will be carried out. Pakistan has over 900 pending cases of people allegedly kidnapped by government bodies. Another member of Khan's legal team Zarmeeneh Rahim said that Khan's abduction eroded any faith in peaceful legal means of redress in Pakistan: "The issue with a case such as Karim’s is that the perception seems to be that people of Waziristan are either collateral damage in the fight against militants, or once they have become victims of drone strikes, they become perpetrators of violence themselves. In Karim Khan’s case, he was a violent victim of a drone strike, his son and brother were killed, and yet he chose to fight through the courts, and peaceful and legal means of protest, It’s tragic that his voice has been silenced at such a time."
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More about Karim Khan, US drone attacks in Pakistan, civilian casualties in drone strikes
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