A Pakistani activist living in exile in Toronto has died.
Police say they do not suspect criminal activity in the death of Karima Mehrab, also known as Karima Baloch, who came to Canada seeking asylum in 2015.
She’d been critical of Pakistan’s government, and active in the struggle for autonomy in Balochistan, in western Pakistan.
She was also the former head of the Baloch Students Organization — a group that’s banned in Pakistan.
She fled to Canada five years ago after the Pakistani government accused her of terrorism.
Mehrab, 37, settled in Toronto, and was last seen Sunday, in the Bay Street and Queens Quay area, according to a Toronto Police Service (TPS) news release.
Amnesty International said it was shocked by Mehrab’s death and urged Toronto police to investigate.
“It is currently being investigated as a non-criminal death,” according to a TPS statement Tuesday, “and there are not believed to be any suspicious circumstances.”
However, a close friend and fellow activist told The Canadian Press that Mehrab had recently received death threats, and he and her family were deeply suspicious about what had happened to her.
“Her husband got messages from unknown people saying they would give a Christmas gift to Karima she will never forget,” Lateef Johar said in an interview.
While police offered no details about the death, Johar said officers had told her family she was found drowned.
“We respect whatever the police says but we will never believe and accept that it was an accident,” Johar said. “She was a brave woman.”
Mehrab’s husband, who Johar said had arrived in Canada for a visit two weeks ago from the United Kingdom, could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday.