KARACHI/NEW DELHI: A family member said the two prominent Indian Muslim clerics who were reported missing during a visit to Pakistan earlier this month have returned safely, saying they were travelling in a remote area with no cellular service.
Waziruddin Nizami said Sunday that his uncle Asif Ali Nizami, the custodian of a famed Sufi shrine in New Delhi, and another cleric returned to Karachi after visiting followers in rural areas of Sindh province.
Nizami said he had filing a missing-person report with police after family members lost contact with the pair. The clerics, who came to Pakistan in early March, will return to India Monday.
The case briefly gained widespread attention, with India’s external affairs minister saying on Twitter last week that she was looking into the matter. Swaraj on Sunday spoke to one of the two clerics of Delhi’s Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah, who were later traced after going missing in Pakistan.
“I just spoke to Syed Nazim Ali Nizami in Karachi. He told me that they are safe and will be back in Delhi tomorrow,” she said in a tweet.
Pakistan had on Saturday conveyed to India that the two missing clerics had been “traced” and that they had reached Karachi.
Syed Asif Nizami, the head priest (Sajjadanashin) of Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia Dargah, and his nephew Nazim Nizami — had gone to Pakistan on March 8 and were to return to India on March 20.
The main purpose of the visit of 80-year-old Asif to Pakistan was to see his sister in Karachi.
On Saturday, Swaraj had spoken to Pakistan Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, regarding the case.
According to Pakistani media reports, both clerics had been in “interior Sindh where there was no communication network” and thus could not tell their relatives about their whereabouts.
Earlier, Pakistani sources had said the two clerics were in the custody of Pakistan’s intelligence agency over their alleged links with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
The clerics were offloaded from Karachi-bound Shaheen Airlines on March 14 at the Allama Iqbal International Airport, Lahore, the sources claimed.