That the state or its institution will not hesitate for a moment to maintain the status quo is confirmed from the yet again disappearance of Dr Riaz Ahmad who chairs the Department of Applied Chemistry at the University of Karachi. Dr Riaz, a political activist, who was once picked up for speaking his mind in favour of Baloch people, went missing for the second time just days before when Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) is planning to hold a rally in Karachi.

The activists in the city see his disappearance as part of the crackdown that authorities are involved in against the sympathisers of PTM rally. The illegal detention of the professor is a shameful act. His disappearance along with all others who have been detained ahead of PTM’s protest in the city is a severe violation of the law of the land.

We have already seen how the state treats those who do not kowtow to the state policy of intimidating those who demand rights denied to them. Dr Ahmad, who is rightly called the chief-agitator of Karachi by the writer Muhammad Hanif, belongs to the brave tribe of those who dare to criticise the state for its wrongful actions.

With the arrest of Dr Ahmad, it is clear that the state cares little for upholding the rule of law supreme. While the authorities may see Dr Ahmad as a security threat, thus he has been picked for the second time. However, there is no evidence of perceived security threats, no formal arrest warrant, and no legal detention mechanism – just an inexplicable “disappearance”.

Instead of curtailing the voices of dissent, the state should focus on not allowing state officials, the likes of Rao Anwar, to take the law into their hands. Freedom to criticise the state is the cornerstone of democracy. Dr Ahmad should be set free.