Families and supporters of five missing activists on Wednesday denounced what they called a campaign to accuse the men of blasphemy, a highly charged allegation that could endanger their lives were they to reappear.
The accusations, made online and in a complaint to police, have unsettled Pakistan’s small community of social activists.
The families of two of the missing men, Salman Haider and Waqass Goraya, described them as part of a “malicious campaign”.
“This campaign can only be meant to divert public sympathy away from our plight and the plight of our loved ones, who have been illegally abducted,” the two families said in a statement handed out at a press conference in the capital, Islamabad.
Associates and supporters of all five men deny they have blasphemed. Haider Shah, of the Rationalist Society of Pakistan, said the blasphemy allegations endangered the activists.
Even if they were freed without charge, they could be targeted by extremists, he added.
“These people will be running from these allegations for the rest of their lives,” Shah said.