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BBC journo in Pakistan goes missing

IANS
Nov 21, 2006 at 06:08pm IST

Islamabad: Dilawar Khan Wazir, a journalist working for BBC's Urdu service, is the latest to 'disappear' in Pakistan.

The first report, which authorities are yet to confirm or deny, has come from his brother Zulfiqar, whom Wazir was intending to visit.

The BBC said it has approached Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's spokesman, Major General Shakuat Sultan for help in the matter.

THE MISSING LINK: The BBC said it has approached Musharraf's spokesman, Major General Shakuat Sultan for help. (IBN)

Wazir left for home in Dera Ismail Khan on Monday morning. But Zulfiqar said shortly after Wazir left about "a dozen suspicious men" arrived at his hostel, although he refused to meet them.

According to The News, the men told the security guard at the hostel of the International Islamic University that Wazir had been injured in an accident and was in the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences hospital in the capital.

"When I called on my brother's mobile phone, a man attended the phone, saying he was a doctor speaking from hospital and Wazir was injured in an accident," Zulfiqar was quoted as saying.

Zulfiqar said he sent his friends to the hospital to try and find him but the staff said that Wazir was not there.

"I immediately called again on my brother's mobile but it was switched off and there has been no contact with him since then," Zulfiqar said, adding he had not yet lodged a report with the local police.

Wazir and his family have been targeted on a number of occasions in recent years, however, it is not clear by whom.

Wazir's younger brother Taimur Khan was shot dead by unknown attackers in August this year.

Officials still do not know who abducted 15-year-old Taimur. He was found with severe head wounds in the town of Wana in South Waziristan and later died of his injuries.

Wazir's family members say they have no personal or tribal enemies.

A report on the BBCUrdu.com website said information ministry officials had said they were in contact with the interior ministry to try to determine the reporter's whereabouts.

In July last year, BBC said, two journalists were killed when gunmen opened fire on their vehicle in South Waziristan region. Wazir was in the car but was unhurt.

Ironically, in July, the BBC conducted a "missing Pakistan" debate. It said disappearances are a neglected political issue in Pakistan. The information minister and families of Pakistani nationals who have disappeared all took part in the special show.

Using its reporters across Pakistan, the BBC's Urdu online service compiled a list of about 40 such people.

BBC correspondents say hundreds of people have gone missing in Pakistan but authenticating the numbers remains a difficult task.

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