July 19th, 2021
A UK court has set the plea hearing of one Muhammad Gohir Khan, a British national of Pakistani origin, for October 29 for allegedly hatching a conspiracy to murder Pakistani social media activist Ahmad Waqass Goraya, is currently in exile in the Netherlands.
The court has asked the crown prosecution service (CPS) to re-frame charges levied against the accused. Khan will remain in custody in jail till October 29. Should he plead not-guilty, the case will go to trial tentatively in January 2022.
According to well-placed sources, the conspiracy was foiled by the Dutch Police who alerted the Metropolitan Police – CPS charged Khan with conspiracy to murder on June 28.
“The exact charge is that between the 16th day of February 2021 and the 24th day of June 2021, [the suspect] conspired together with persons unknown to murder Ahmad Waqas Goraya, contrary to Section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977,” the CPS said.
According to sources, Khan travelled to the Netherlands from the UK and visited the neighborhood where Goraya used to live.
Goraya, while talking to Voicepk.net said that he was informed by the Dutch Police about this conspiracy in February 2021, and was advised to move to a safe location.
“I am still living in an undisclosed location due to security concerns,” he said. “I have resettled my parents in the Netherlands so that I could better look after them but I have met them only once in the last five or six months.”
Critic of the military establishment
Goraya is a social media activist who is vocal against Pakistan’s powerful military establishment and the country’s premier intelligence agency, the ISI, whom he has accused of rights violations in different parts of the country.
He along with four other bloggers were abducted in January 2017 and were released weeks later after international rights organizations protested against their abduction. The other activists were Salman Haider, Asim Saeed, Ahmed Raza Naseer, and Samar Abbas.
The kidnapped bloggers later claimed that they were in the captivity of security forces, who badly tortured them and demanded they stop criticizing the country’s military. These claims have been denied by the military.
During their disappearance, a social media campaign against the bloggers accused them of blasphemy. In December 2017, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) told the Islamabad High Court that it found no evidence of blasphemy against the bloggers.
In 2020, Goraya was attacked outside his house in the Netherlands. He was punched in the face and threatened with his life by two men.
Since 2020, two Baloch activists who were vocal dissidents of Pakistan’s military establishment have died under mysterious circumstances outside Pakistan’s borders.
In May 2020, the Swedish police found the dead body of Pakistani journalist, Sajid Hussain Baloch, two months after he went missing. Police later stated that Baloch had been found drowned in the Fyris River near Uppsala.
In December 2020, in a similarly chilling case, Canadian police found the dead body of prominent Baloch activist Karima Baloch hours after she went missing. The police in this case had also revealed that Karima had drowned in a river.