A prominent human rights activist and a former lawmaker were arrested overnight, police said Sunday, after they rallied against enforced disappearances in Pakistan.
Lawyer Imaan Mazari-Hazir and politician Ali Wazir on Friday appeared at the first protest in months to be staged by the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), which fights for the rights of ethnic Pashtuns.
"Both of the accused were wanted for investigation. All the proceedings will be carried in accordance with the law," police in the capital Islamabad said, without giving details of the charges.
A PTM spokesman told AFP that dozens more members have also been detained since the protest.
PTM was launched to fight against what it says are military excesses committed during anti-terrorism operations in the country's northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province where most Pashtuns live.
The military has denied the accusations.
Up to 3,000 people attended the protest in Islamabad, where both Mazari-Hazir and Wazir gave speeches condemning harassment against Pashtuns and called for missing people to be returned.
"You are being stopped as if you are the terrorists, while the (Pakistan) Taliban have taken over your homes again," Mazari-Hazir told the crowds in a video posted on social media.
She repeated the party's slogan, "It's the uniform behind terrorism".
Shireen Mazari, the country's human rights minister under former prime minister Imran Khan, said her daughter had been taken from her home in Islamabad by plainclothes women who did not present warrants.
"My daughter was in her night clothes and said 'let me change' but they just dragged her away," Shireen Mazari posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Wazir is a PTM founding member who has long been an outspoken critic of the military and their clearance operations in the former tribal areas that border Afghanistan.
He was part of the outgoing government, representing the PTM, which dissolved earlier this month and has been arrested many times.
Both appeared at court in Islamabad on Sunday.
"It's unacceptable and points to a larger, more worrying pattern of state-sanctioned violence against people exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly," the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said in a statement.
Amnesty International called on the government to release Mazari-Hazir.
"If Imaan has been detained for her participation at this jalsa, she must be immediately and unconditionally released as this would be a violation of her rights to freedom of assembly, association and expression," the rights group said.
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