Wife of Pakistani journalist in exile claims husband missing in KL

Pakistani journalist Syed Fawad Ali Shah, who has been living in Malaysia as a refugee since 2011, has been missing since August.

PETALING JAYA: Pakistani journalist Syed Fawad Ali Shah who has been in exile in Malaysia for over 10 years to escape alleged persecution in his home country has gone missing since August, his wife claims.

Fawad, 41, had claimed that a top intelligence agency in his home country was after him for writing scathing articles over enforced disappearances since 2008.

His wife, who only wanted to be known as Syeda – out of fear of repercussions in her home country – said Fawad had gone off the radar since August 23, with his friends lodging a report at the Travers police station following his disappearance.

Syeda alleged that upon arriving in Kuala Lumpur, she was told by police that she had “come too late” as Fawad had been deported.

She also claimed that one police officer informed her his name was not on the list, suggesting that Fawad might still be in the country.

Syeda said she was not convinced by the deportation theory as authorities in Pakistan had yet to note his return. Fawad had been staying in Bangsar.

“I argued with the officer, show me proof you deported my husband. What crime did my husband commit to deserve his deportation, and why hasn’t he met us yet?

“I asked for flight details of the apparent deportation in September, no one in Malaysia can tell me,” she told FMT over the phone.

Syeda said she married Fawad in secret so as to prevent Pakistani authorities from finding out. They spent a month in Langkawi in Feb 2021 after they got married and Syeda then returned home.

They had since been on video calls but Fawad disappeared without notice at the end of August. “When I texted his number, I only got blue ticks. After a few more texts, I got a reply asking me not to contact him again. That is not like him. Then his phone was completely switched off,” Syeda said.

“I beg the authorities, please find my husband,” she said.

Syeda said Fawad was given refugee status by UNHCR in 2011 and was awaiting resettlement to a third country. In an interview with FMT, Fawad had said his troubles began in 2008 when he decided to investigate cases of missing persons.

His work eventually led him to believe that the authorities were involved in the disappearance of these people, many of whom were accused of everything from spying for the Americans and Indians, to working for the Taliban.

While he worked on other articles, he continued to pursue cases of missing persons. In 2010, he was detained for 18 days and interviewed by officers carrying Pakistani intelligence agency files.

Fawad was eventually released with a warning: stop writing about missing persons, and give up journalism.

FMT has contacted the Brickfields police for comment on the missing persons’ report, and Bukit Aman over his apparent deportation to Pakistan.

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