By Sohail Khan – The News
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday directed the government to submit a reply to the report of the Judicial Commission on missing persons.
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Javed Iqbal, resumed hearing into the case of missing persons, allegedly taken for interrogation by the intelligence agencies on their alleged links with militant groups. Their relatives claimed that they were picked up by intelligence agencies but were never brought before the court.
During the course of hearing, Justice Javed Iqbal observed that 2011 would be the year of missing persons’ recovery. Additional Attorney General K K Agha submitted before the court that the judicial commission had recovered 134 missing people so far, adding that the contents of the report were classified; therefore, it should not be made public.
K K Agha further said that as instructions were being taken from the government on the report of the commission, therefore, it should not be made public. Hashmat Habib, the counsel for one of the petitioners, submitted that there were missing persons whose heirs were not coming to the forefront. At this, Justice Raja Fayyaz Ahmed observed that these people were reluctant due to the fear factor.
Justice Javed Iqbal observed that as the apex court had traced the missing prisoners of Adiala Jail, it would also trace out the missing persons in the case as well. He observed that there should be a tribunal for the hearing of missing persons’ cases as recommended by the commission.
Amina Masood Janjua, the spouse of missing Masood Janjua, while appearing before the court, submitted that since April 2010, 100 more people had gone missing. She further said that relatives of the missing persons had been subjected to mental torture as they had not yet been informed about the whereabouts of their near and dear ones. Meanwhile, the court, after seeking a reply from the government on the report of the commission, adjourned the hearing till next Monday.
Justice Javed Iqbal in his statement few days ago rightly pointed out to the fact that cases like missing persons pose real threat to democracy not the verdicts of Independent judiciary. In his statements he further criticized the performance of the government institutions. He said no government institution is working properly and the system is on the verge of disaster. He further said someone had to intervene to save the system and huge cry was raised every time when court does it.
The issue of missing persons is considered as the main reason behind the attempted removal of CJP Iftikhar Chaudhary twice by Musharraf’s government. According to HRCP estimates there are 198 reported missing persons since 2007 out of which 66 are from the deprived province of Baluchistan. The estimated figure of unreported cases is much higher. In a talk show recently Asma Jehangir, Chairperson of HRCP told that in 2009 there were 30 new cases of missing persons came to their knowledge.
After the 18th February 2008 elections it was expected that the newly elected government would try to improve the human rights situation and give some relief to the victim families. But this proved to be another shattered dream of people blinded by their faith and hope which soon turned into disbelief on the system for many.
Not only that all the people missing are not recovered but this heinous crime of illegally abducting the people is going on and hurdles are being created to trace the already missing. In a recent television interview Dr. Fawzia Siddiqi , sister of Dr. Aafia Siddiqi said the real danger from the release of Dr. Aafia is felt by those who are part of this evil network which kidnaps people and sell them. It is amazing that in the time of elected government with new army chief and intelligence chiefs no actions were taken against those involved in these illegal and inhuman activities during the former dictators rule. Government is using delaying tactics in Dr. Aafia case and has showed it’s inability to take the case in International Court of Justice.
In war hit areas of NWFP the situation is probably worse than other areas as there is no free media access and also judicial authority is almost none in many areas due to military control. Not only young but old and aged are being picked up by the security institutions in the name of war against terror. In a case filed by Syed Iqbal Kazmi, representative in Pakistan of Human Right Commission South Asia (HRCSA), an eighty years old man Wazir was picked up by Mohmand Rifles on September 2, 2009.Mohmand Rifles personnel picked up Wazir alleging that his son was involved in terrorist activities. In another case police and intelligence agencies in a joint raid picked up Usman Ali on January 29, 2009 from his house on suspicion of having relations with Taliban. Baluchistan is also facing similar situation though 20 of missing persons were released on political pressure But still there are many including people like Pasand Khan Mandai from Baluchistan Worker’s Party were picked up by agencies during 2009 and their cases are still pending.
The statement by Justice Javed Iqbal clearly reflects the growing sentiments in Pakistani Society about the current democracy. Justice Javed Iqball said,” What type of democracy do we have wherein fundamental rights of the people could not be ensured?” The remarks were given while he was heading a three-member bench of the apex court, hearing petitions of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and others.
It seems that current so called democratic government has completely failed to protect the rights of our people. The situation demands real seriousness and sincerity, it is already too late. People are already fed up with inflation, corruption, load shedding and same old deceptions and lies. Government needs to take some real measures to rectify it’s mistakes and the mistakes committed during the time of the former dictator Musharraf otherwise things will go to the point of no return.