Two Indian clerics, including the head priest of New Delhi’s Nizamuddin Dargah, have gone missing in Pakistan, prompting India to take up the matter with the Pakistani government. Syed Asif Ali Nizami, 80, and his nephew, Nazim Ali Nizami, 65, had gone to Pakistan on March 8. Syed Asif was visiting his ailing sister in Karachi after many years while Nazim keeps visiting their relatives in Pakistan and Sufi shrines in the country annually.
“They had gone to Lahore on March 14 to visit Daata Darbar (shrine) and were scheduled to return to Karachi in the evening of March 15 by Shaheen Air (flight no. NL149),” their Karachi-based relative, Syed Wazir Nizami, told The Indian Express from the Pakistani port city. “While they were at the Lahore airport, I received a call from the airport. The caller did not tell his name, and mentioned that certain papers of my cousin Nazim were incorrect and so he was being detained and will not be able to travel to Karachi.’’ He was told that his uncle, Syed Asif, will be able to travel to Karachi.
Syed Wazir was able to talk to Syed Asif when the Shaheen Air flight landed at Karachi airport at 6 pm. “Asif uncle did not come out of the airport even after hours had passed. When Shaheen Air officials at Lahore airport were approached, they said that some people had come and taken Asif with them…it was quite mysterious,” he told The Indian Express.
He added that his uncle had told him he was not feeling well. “…since Lahore was quite cold, and wanted to come out of the airport quickly. He had asked me whether I had reached the airport or not. I told him I was waiting outside.’’
Syed Wazir said his uncle’s phone was switched off since then. “…humlog bahut pareshan hain (we are very worried),’’ he said. “The duo were set to return on March 20…we are hoping and praying for their safe return.’’
Syed Wazir has shared his uncle’s mobile number as well as that of the anonymous caller with the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. The mission has shared the details with the Pakistan government. Sources said that the Nizamis approached the High Commission on Thursday morning after they waited until late night for Syed Asif to return.
“The Indian High Commission immediately approached the Pakistan foreign ministry. But there has been no communication from the two missing Indians so far,” a government source said. Pakistan government sources said they were looking into the matter and have urged families to be patient.
A part of the Nizami family has been living in Karachi since Partition while clerics from Nizamuddin Dargah and the Daata Darbar visit these shrines in Delhi and Lahore regularly. Officials are exercising restraint and not wanting to jump to conclusions. New Delhi is concerned in the wake of recent incidents in Pakistan. In February, 72 people were killed in an attack on a Sufi shrine.