The Islamabad High Court has strictly warned the Shehbaz Sharif government, ordering him to ensure that all the missing persons whose cases are being heard are produced before the court on September 9. The court said that in case of failure to comply with the order, the prime minister is expected to appear before the court himself to give an explanation. Sources suggest that the missing persons’ case in Pakistan is something that both the civil government and the security establishment is worried about. The court has ordered the ruling government to recover those people abducted by authorities for several years. The production orders against these arrests were issued by the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances. The court has asked the agency to brief about the actions implemented by them against the states. Further, the court is also questioning the states regarding the circumstances under which production orders were not implemented.
The Chief Justice of Pakistan said, “The Federal Government i.e. the worthy Prime Minister shall ensure that the missing citizens described in the petitions in hand are produced before the Court on the date fixed, failing which the worthy Prime Minister shall appear in person to justify the failure of the State to fulfil its constitutional obligations.”
Further, the court has also asked the Shehbaz Sharif government to make the court aware regarding the steps taken against the authorities involved in this case. The court order stated, “The worthy Prime Minister is also expected to inform the Court regarding actions taken against those public functionaries who have been or continue to be involved in the most inhuman and heinous phenomenon of ‘enforced disappearances’.”
Disappearances Of People In Pakistan
The disappearances of Pakistani people came to light during the rule of former prime minister, Pervez Musharraf. It was at its peak between 1999 and 2008. Even after two decades, there are more than 5000 reported cases of abduction in Pakistan. According to human rights activists in Pakistan, the law enforcement agencies of the country are responsible for these forced disappearances.
During Musharraf’s term, the US invaded Afghanistan, and there were several cases of suicide bomb attacks in Pakistan. At the time, post 9/11, the ‘War on Terror’ was igniting globally, and the government started arresting “suspicious people”. Sources claim that many of these people arrested were then transferred to Guantanamo Bay’s Camp X-Ray. Later, a Pakistani court charged Musharraf with many human rights violations after his resignation.
On the other hand, the authorities have denied all allegations. They claim that the missing people have either joined a militant organisation in Afghanistan, or have fled to Europe as illegal migrants and died during their journey.
Balochistan: The Hub Of Forced Disappearances
The rate of abduction in Pakistan by the state authorities is the highest in the western province of Balochistan. Amnesty International states that by 2021, it had received 7000 cases of forced disappearances, although it claims that it has resolved 5000 of them.
The Baloch region, which is rich in natural resources like natural gas, oil, coal, copper, sulphur, fluoride, and gold, is also the least developed region of the nation. The entire region is controlled by the Pakistan military, and its officials enjoy political autonomy on the resources there.
To fight back against the autonomous control of the Pakistan army, there are several militant groups present in Balochistan. Baloch separatists often conduct attacks on the military, and sometimes on civilians of different ethnicities. The Pakistan military and the government, thus, claim that the people arrested had connections with separatists or terrorists. However, there are many people struggling to find their family members who have been arrested by the state. They claim that the authorities have arrested them for raising their voices against the government.
Voice for Baloch Missing People
‘Voice for Baloch Missing People’ is a NGO that works for the victims of Pakistan’s authoritarian governance. They stand for the people who have lost their family members due to the enforced disappearances in Pakistan. The organisation records data of the forced disappearances, releases press statements, conducts protests, rallies, hunger strikes, and so on. They also guide in filing FIRs to help the victims of forced disappearances.
The organisation was founded in 2009, although its members have been active since the first abduction, reportedly, in 2000. The founder of the organisation, Abdul Qadeer Baloch or Mama Qadeer, is himself a victim of an enforced disappearance. In 2009, Jalil Rekhi, Mama Qadeer’s son was abducted in Balochistan. After facing two years of torture, Rekhi was found dead in the streets of Balochistan, in 2011. His body was mutilated and he had bullet wounds and cigarette burns all over his body.
CJP Athar Minallah Questions Pak Government
After two decades of gutsy abduction of the Pakistani people by the government, the High Court of Islamabad has asked PM Shehbaz Sharif to present the government’s side on the issue. The forced disappearances started under Pervez Musharraf’s rule in 1999. After so many years, many governments that have come to power since, have used it to restrict many journalists, political leaders and human rights activists. Most governments have used illegal arrests to suppress the freedom of speech.