24-year-old Pakistani journalist Zeenat Shahzadi, who was probing the case of a detained Indian citizen, Hamid Nehal Ansari, went missing in 2015. She has been rescued by activists from the Pakistan-Afghan border. Missing Persons Commission chief Justice Javed Iqbal confirmed that non-state actors and enemy agencies had kidnapped her when she was on her way to office from home in an autorickshaw.
He further added that the journalist was recovered with the help of some tribal elders in Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Shahzadi was allegedly kidnapped immediately after she filed an application with Pakistan's Supreme Court in behalf of missing Hamid Ansari's mother Fauzia. Incidentally, Ansari was sentenced to three-years imprisonment for espionage, months after Shahzadi's disappearance.
Activist Hina Jillani had in 2016 told BBC that Shahzadi had informed her family that she was detained by security forces for questioning them about Ansari. Meanwhile, Shahzadi's brother Saddam Hussain had also committed suicide in 2016, depressed over his sister's disappearance.
Back in Mumbai, Fauzia said that she was delighted to hear about her release. Speaking to the New Indian Express, she said, "I was asked earlier that between Zeenat and my son whom I would want to be released first and I had said Zeenat. Today that wish has come true. I feel relieved because somewhere I feel responsible for what she had to go through."
She further added, "It was in Mecca when we first got in touch… seeking the God’s help to find my son. I later realised that someone was trying to get in touch with me on my phone. I called back and Zeenat introduced herself and said that she would want to help me. I told her that day that she was the answer to my prayers which it turns out she really was."
Fauzia said that she was introduced to Shahzadi by UK-based activist Jas Uppal when she was desparately looking for her son who left home in November 2012 for Afghanistan in search of a job. She later came to know that Ansari had crossed over in search of a woman he loved and to prevent her marriage with someone else in Pakistan's Kohat region.
Zeenat Shahzadi had reached Kohat and found that Ansari was in police custody. Fauzia said, "As soon as she got the statement from the police she called me up and said that she planned to file a petition before the Human Rights Cell of the Pakistani Supreme Court about Hamid’s disappearance. She sought a power of attorney from me to act on my behalf and filed a petition on our behalf."
Shahzadi, reportedly travelled from Lahore to Islamabad to attend the hearings. Fauzi, who teaches in a Mumbai college said, "She would inquire about my health and ask me not to worry. She knew that I would fast and pray for her every time she stepped out of her house to attend a hearing. She would diligently call me in the night to say that she had reached home and I should stop praying and rest as well."