Missing persons Saga: Is a legislation possible?


Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari on Saturday met the families of missing persons who are protesting in Islamabad. The minister, during her meeting with the families, assured them that the government would resolve their problems and that Prime Minister Imran Khan would meet them once the protest ends.The human rights minister said that the prime minister had requested the names of the people that were missing. “The families should trust the prime minister,” she said.

The case of missing persons is probably the most controversial and long-standing issue in Pakistan. Thousands of young men have disappeared without a trace and their families are unable to find them. They have received no media support, labelled anti-state for raising their voice, and efforts by the authorities to recover them have seldom seen any results.The incumbent government has given importance to the case of missing persons and wants to resolve the matter.

Mazari also assured that legislation will be passed to ensure an end to the practice of enforced disappearances. It is probably the first time that the federal cabinet expressed concern over this issue and is working to pass laws to ensure there is no missing person.  This will be a historic bill if passed and help a long way to stop the disappearance of people. The issue has tarnished Pakistan’s reputation, human rights record and raised doubts over personal freedoms and dissident. It is imperative this issue is resolved by prompt action and legislature.

Shireen Mazari and PM Khan’s good intentions might stand a good chance if the state decided to sharpen its arsenal with something more effective than the Commission of Inquiry into Enforced Disappearances. Largely called out for its delinquency, the commission has done nothing to address its main goal: an end to disappearances. Till last year, it only had 6,786 cases on its roster. Anyone would find this minuscule number hard to believe! At best, the inquiry commission can be allowed to function as a record of the keeper; nothing more!

For the past several decades, distressed families grasping for even the faintest confirmation for their relative’s whereabouts–may it be death–have haunted Pakistan. If the government is as serious in putting a tab on Pakistan’s Frankenstein as it claims, it might consider ending the culture of impunity that clouds all relevant court proceedings and state-led efforts.

Shafaqna Pakistan



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