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Analysis Human Rights Politics

Missing Persons: Mengal Says PTI Government Looks Impotent to Address His Party’s Six Points

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The issue of enforced disappearances has remained unchecked across the country for years and it is a sort of stain on the face of Pakistan government because no one is looking serious to address this issue.

Talking to NayaDaur, Balochistan National Party (BNP-M) President Sardar Akhtar Mengal, said, “The government is seemingly helpless and powerless.”

He added that if the PTI government had no authority to resolve the issue “then they must tell us regarding their helplessness and powerlessness”.

Criticising the PTI government, he said, “The government should have had questioned those who have the decision making power before forming an alliance with us on the basis of six points because so far the PTI-led government is looking incapable of and impotent to address our six points.”

Reacting to the Gwadar incident, Mengal rejected the claims that a Baloch ‘missing person’ was among the gunmen who attacked the hotel.

According to media reports, political activists, students, human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists as well as the members of religious and various ethnic minorities have all fallen victim to this trend in the recent years.

Many human rights organisation, like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have repeatedly highlighted this issue, but despite much pressure from the civil society and human rights organisations, no steps have taken by the government to resolve the matter.

Age of disappearances

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in its annual report has said that no one has ever been held accountable and police were powerless to investigate the cases of missing persons, where either the military or the intelligence agencies were implicated.

Rights activists and civil society from around the country have shown grave concern over the issue, demanding the perpetrators to be held accountable.

Recently, the issue caught the attention of national and international media when the families of missing persons launched a protest in Karachi outside the private residence of President Dr Arif Alvi.

The sit-in finally ended after they held successful talks with the authorities concerned, as Rashid Rizvi, the head of missing persons’ relatives committee, said, “We have ended the protest after successful talks with the authorities.”

Talking to NayaDaur, Tariq Afghan Advocate – who is contesting a missing person case in Peshawar High Court said, “There are some issues, including the missing persons, about which the PTI government is looking helpless even though it is in the domain of the elected government to address these.”

He elaborated that if the government was unable to resolve the issues, it would give space to others to describe it as a selected government which took dictation from someone else.

Replying to a question, Afghan said, “Those who have returned to their homes and proved innocent after years must be given compensation because all their precious time has been wasted in this illegal confinement.”

According to the recent statistics submitted to the Supreme Court by the Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal-led Commission of Enquiry on Enforced Disappearances, around 1,498 cases of enforced disappearances remain pending with the government.

Most of the missing persons belong to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 837 cases, followed by Punjab 237, Sindh 136 and Balochistan/ tribal areas 63. However, several human rights organisations have termed this number as controversial and unrealistic.

A recent Human Rights Watch report says that despite the reservations and concerns expressed by civil society and rights activists, the practice of enforced disappearances continues at an alarming pace.

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