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Enforced Disappearances and the Denials 

Author: Shaad Baloch

President of BNP, Sardar Akhtar Mengal presented his demands in six points, while joining the federal coalition government. One of these points is regarding the Baloch missing persons.

Sardar Akhtar Mengal handed over the list of five thousands to the speaker of assembly and demanded a solution of it as soon as possible. He said the victims, whose beloved are missing for years having no information of their whereabouts, could only feel this pain better. However, the credibility of the cases issuance and solution as accordingly with the growing numbers in Balochistan has brought a new face to refuse the list that Sardar Aktar Mengal proposed.

Justice (r) Javed Iqbal, head of Pakistan’s missing persons commission, while talking about the enforced disappearances from Balochistan said that many of the missing persons went missing due to personal enmity. He also negated the numbers and said only around 135 people are missing. He is the Chairman of Commission on Enquiry on Enforced Disappearances in Pakistan, this statement regarding missing persons is a complete refusal, which denies the very existence of enforced disappearances issue and surely provides impunity to military establishment. Other then that it has also totally undermined one of Sardar Akhtar Menga’s demands and he should understand that there is no more chance for him to continue with demand as the head of missing person’s commission has completely refuted the authenticity of enforced disappearances.

30th August is the day internationally commemorated each year to remember and highlight the issues and hardships of the victims and to draw attention to the fate of individuals imprisoned at places following a secret and forced disappearance. The impulse for this day came from the Latin America Federation of Associations for Relatives of Detained-Disappeared, a non governmental organization founded in 1981 in Costa Rico as an association of local and regional groups who work actively against forced disappearances and abduction.

The international bodies and organizations who have important roles in the fields of human rights activism and humanitarian aid, such as Amensty International, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are very much concerned about the cases of disappearances. Despite their continuous statements, the disappearances are elevating in Pakistan.

Instead of resolving the issue of missing persons, a statement from the Chairman of an Inquiry Commission on Enforced Disappearances has caused severe trauma anguish among the victim families.

Aktar Mengal while responding on tweeter to Justice (r) Javed Iqbal’s statement said: “As head of missing persons tribunal this judgment has promoted him (Justice Iqbal) as Chairman of NAB. How is it that a person who failed to recover thousands of missing persons is given a position to recover billion of rupees?”

He also asked: ‘lets assume the personal enmity factor is correct, then why this issue started only 15 years ago, whereas, the personal enmities have significantly reduced during these years.’

In my opinion, Akhtar Mengal knows very well about the tricks of the state, however, he is just trying to build an assurance of his conscience to know how the state responds. Akhtar Mengal is not trusted in Pakistan, because of his family background as one of his brother Javed Mengal openly campaigns for an independent Balochistan.

Statements from people at higher positions like that of Justice Javed Iqbal only create sentiments of anger among the victims and others.

Sohail Warrech, a senior Journalist of BBC reported on 29 August 2018 that the number of enforced disappearances has significantly increased in Pakistan in 2018. According to him, Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) claims approximately 20 thousands Baloch are missing.

In 2017, Human Rights Commission stated that Pakistan has failed to provide protection to the International Charter, which declares enforced disappearances a crime.

In the past, on international level campaigners have failed to provide real evidence as the West works on facts and evidence. It needs facts, dates, family’s consent, evidence and copy of Police report while registering a case. To look at the situations in Pakistan, families of the disappeared hardly get into police verification and launch first information report. The state mechanism has frightened the families to report before a court and this is how the cases from Balochistan sometimes get years to be even considered.

Not only Baloch, in Pakistan Sindhi, Pashtoons region are also facing the grim issue of enforced disappearances. When Voice For Missing Persons of Sindh protested, the Cheif Justice of Supreme Court Saqib Nasir took a suo moto action and directed the law enforcement authorities to find the whereabouts of the missing. A particular cell was formed for this purpose but Convener of Voice for Missing Persons of Sindh, Surth loher, said that nothing has improved.

He is also among the victims, his father is missing since last year. He believes the lawyers are also frightened as they also get into trouble if they take the cases of missing persons.

Imprisonment under secret or uncertain circumstances is a grave violation of human rights. For this purpose, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance as resolution 47/133 on December 18, 1992. Similarly, the International Coalition against Enforced Disappearances has initiated global campaigns to promote the ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All persons from enforced disappearance but still a state like Pakistan has failed to abide by this declaration and the enforced disappearances by the state continue to increase.

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