Armed men kidnapped two people, including a journalist, on the night of March 4, 2004 in the city of Sukkur (Sindh province).
Shahbaz Pathan, a correspondent for the Sindhi daily “Halchal”, was playing badminton with five friends when several armed men tried to kidnap them. Local residents chased the kidnappers, forcing them to free four of the boys after an exchange of gunfire. The bandits, however, abducted Pathan and a 16-year-old boy and took them to the Shah Belo forest, outside the city limits. Pathan, aged 19, is the brother of Lala Asad Pathan, general secretary of the Sukkur Press Club.
An emergency meeting of journalists was held at the press club following the incident. A resolution demanding an early recovery of the kidnapped journalist was unanimously adopted. The resolution warned that if the victims were not located and freed, journalists would launch a protest movement against the police. A delegation of journalists met with senior police officials and expressed their anger over the incident.
Although the motive for the kidnapping could not be confirmed, press reports said Lala Asad Pathan had produced a documentary about the activities of bandits in the Shah Belo forest and had pointed out that the area had become a safe haven for bandits. The documentary was aired during the week of March 1, 2004.
Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) President Ahfazur Rehman also expressed concern over the incident. He demanded that the authorities take firm action to secure the release of the kidnapped journalist, saying that otherwise, the PFUJ would launch a protest movement across the country.
Local police are investigating the case and have arrested about 20 people to date.