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Pakistani dissidents in the UK are in mortal danger—British police cites threat from Pakistan’s deep state

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan with General Qamar Javed Bajwa (Photo: Twitter)

The British counter-terrorism police has advised dissident Pakistanis living in the UK to maintain a low profile as their lives might be at risk from Pakistani authorities.

British newspaper The Guardian reported over the weekend that Counter Terrorism Policing–a collaboration of UK police forces and security services, told select Pakistanis living in the UK to maintain a low profile and to keep the police posted about their travels plans within the UK.

The warning from the British security came after two incidents surfaced recently. In one incident, a Pakistani woman was told that hitmen linked to Pakistani drug gangs would target her, and in the second much-publicised incident, a hitman was found guilty of conspiring to murder a Pakistani blogger in the Netherlands.

British courts recently convicted Muhammad Gohir Khan, a 31-year-old Pakistani living in the UK, who agreed to kill Ahmad Waqass Goraya, a Pakistani activist and blogger based in the Netherlands. Muhammad Gohir Khan was offered 100,000 pounds to kill Goraya and given a photograph and address of the target.

Here is a list of some of the prominent people at risk from the Pakistani establishment:

  • Political commentator Rashid Murad has been asked to “review his security"
  • Well known defence analyst Ayesha Siddiqa is being targeted
  • Lawyer Fazal Khan is on the hit list of Pakistani authorities

Fazal Khan told The Guardian: "In the UK, a severe threat exists; London, Birmingham and cities like Sheffield with big Asian communities and where they [the Pakistani authorities] have people on their payroll. I was asked not to move around, not to leave the city and provide the police details of my contacts".

People like Siddiqa and Goraya have been found to be at risk as they are known critics of the Pakistani government and the all-powerful Pakistani military. Siddiqa told British security agencies that she is likely to be targeted by British-based Pakistani drug gangs.

Goraya who met with British security agencies is believed to have told the investigative agencies that the attempt to kill him was “a transnational crime”. The Guardian quoted him as saying: "The EU and the UK should take up this matter with their Pakistani counterparts to end this. We didn’t move to Europe to live under the terror of the Pakistani military".

The Guardian report highlights that the threat to the lives of Pakistani activists is not merely in the UK but also extends to other countries in the European Union.

Zar Ali Khan Afridi—Pashtun rights campaigner living in the Netherlands, said that he had received a life-threatening call from a British number. He added that even in Europe there is always "the fear of being attacked, killed or harmed".

Similarly, journalist Yunas Khan from France said that French authorities informed him about audio files in which “a figure from Pakistan’s ruling party, Tehreek-i-Insaf, tells the Pakistani community in Europe to attack Khan".

The UK investigation assumes importance as the Pakistan deep State has earlier also targeted critics in Western countries. In early 2020 Baloch journalist Sajid Hussain was found dead in mysterious circumstances in Sweden. Similarly Karima Baloch, another Baloch activist was found dead in Canada about a year back.

The Pakistan government has denied these allegations. In a statement, it said: "Those who are baselessly defaming and spreading propaganda against Pakistan military and intelligence agencies are doing it to accomplish either their own ulterior motives or that of their sponsors".