It did not take too long after the disappearance of Salman Haider on Friday, for fingers to be pointed in the state’s direction, for possible involvement. A man that had often raised his voiced for missing persons in Balochistan, has now disappeared under similar circumstances seemingly without a trace. But he is not the only one – Waqas Goraya and Asim Saeed have been missing since January 4, according to BytesForAll and Ahmed Raza Naseer since January 7. All were active on various social mediums and were known for their leftist views. The government’s inability to unearth any answers so far is at best an example of incompetence and at worst, and if not resolved fast, it could hint at something darker, such as the state’s complicity in the affair.

Money does not seem like the motive behind the disappearances; none of those that went missing was exceptionally wealthy, and Salman Haider’s car left behind on the highway with a text sent from his number to his wife indicates that a deeper game is at play. With their views often verging on an anti-establishment or an anti-government stance, the lives of these activists are always at threat. And while the Interior Ministry has committed to look into Salman Haider’s disappearance, the others missing have not even been mentioned so far.

So far sources from within intelligence agencies have denied the rumours of this being a state operation however, no calls for ransom or any other demands have been made. The public is rattled and rightly so, because it seems clear that these activists are missing for daring to voice their views on social media websites. Public figures disappearing for voicing their views sends an indication of no one being safe. And if that is actually the case, the country is heading in the wrong direction in terms of protecting important freedoms such as the right to express one’s owns opinions – and this dystopian environment must not be allowed to set in.