Number of missing people on the rise
ISLAMABAD, July 3: The number of “missing people” has been constantly rising despite efforts of the government, parliament and the Supreme Court to resolve the issue. This is reflected in a statement issued by the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances here on Tuesday.
The latest figures released by a two-member commission headed by Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal show that a total of 518 cases of `missing people’ were under investigation before it till June 30.
It says that on Jan 1, 2011, there were 138 cases pending before the commission which received 634 new cases over the past 18 months, increasing the total number to 772. It says that the commission formed under the directives of the Supreme Court some two years ago has so far disposed of 254 cases.
It claims the success of the commission in tracing 30 people last month when it held its proceedings in Quetta and Islamabad.
The statement provides a list of the 30 people but without answering two key questions — from where these `missing people’ were recovered and who had picked them up.
But the commission has expressed its determination “to make all-out efforts to trace the missing people”.
Addressing a news conference in Quetta last month, Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal, who is also heading the Abbottabad Commission investigating the US operation which resulted in the killing of Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, reportedly held foreign intelligence agencies responsible for the deteriorating situation in Balochistan claiming that there was “concrete evidence” against them.
Justice Iqbal had also regretted that the authorities had not been not able to compile complete details of those enlisted as missing people, and said there was a “baseless propaganda” about the actual number of the missing people in the country.
At that time, he had given the figure of 460 missing people, stating that 18 disappeared were from Islamabad, 117 from Punjab, 174 from Sindh, 170 from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 57 from Balochistan and 12 each from Azad Kashmir and Federally Administered Areas (Fata). He also disclosed that 42 bodies of missing people had been found in Balochistan.
In May, the government faced a tough situation in Senate when a number of senators, including from treasury benches, asked it to present the report of the commission on missing people before the parliament.
Minister of State for Interior Imtiaz Safdar Warraich had told the house that the report of the commission had already been presented in the Supreme Court and to the prime minister.
In March this year, a Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) headed by PPP’s Raza Rabbani announced that it would take up the issue of forced disappearance of hundreds of people.
Political analysts believe that taking up the issue of missing people by the PCNS will be a major development as the powerful parliamentary committee having representation of almost all parties in parliament will get a chance to scrutinise laws
governing functions of intelligence agencies in the country.
The term of “missing people” has been in use in the country since the military regime of Pervez Musharraf announced its support for the US in the war on terror.