RELIGION

Rights groups urge Pakistan to probe abductions of activists

Activists of Pakistan civil society rally to condemn the missing human rights activist Salman Haider, in Karachi, Pakistan, Monday, Jan. 9, 2017. A Pakistani university professor, poet and rights activist who has been critical of the Taliban and also of the government's efforts against militants, has been missing since last week, his family said. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)

Activists of Pakistan civil society rally to condemn the missing human rights activist Salman Haider, in Karachi, Pakistan, Monday, Jan. 9, 2017. A Pakistani university professor, poet and rights activist who has been critical of the Taliban and also of the government's efforts against militants, has been missing since last week, his family said. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)  (The Associated Press)

Local and international rights groups have urged the Pakistani government to investigate the abductions and disappearances last week of four anti-Taliban activists.

Human Rights Watch says the four men were critical of militant groups and the Pakistani military establishment in their works and writings, and often spoke up for religious freedoms.

Tuesday's statement from the New York-based group says the four, who include a well-known poet and university professor, were snatched from various Pakistani cities.

Pakistan's independent Human Rights Commission also expressed concern, demanding the men be found.

The Interior Ministry has ordered police expedite efforts to find the professor, Salman Haider, but hasn't said anything about the others.

No group has claimed responsibility for abducting any of the four and authorities have not said if they have been detained.