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April 17, 2018

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‘4,000 Pakistanis handed over to foreigners for dollars during Musharraf regime’

ISLAMABAD: National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman and National Commission for Enforced Disappearances President Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal on Monday said that during former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s tenure, over 4,000 Pakistanis were handed over to foreigners for dollars, local media reported.

Briefing the National Assembly's Standing Committee on Human Rights over the issue of missing persons in the country, Javed Iqbal said that 70 percent of the missing individuals were involved in ‘militancy’ and that the recovered individuals “were too scared to open up about their experiences”.

Speaking about the missing Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) workers, the commission chief said, “MQM showed no interest in recovery of their missing workers. “MQM had its government but did not take the case of missing persons in Sindh seriously. The MQM workers who went missing two decades ago have not been recovered yet,” he added.

Javed Iqbal continued that during former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s tenure, the-then interior minister Aftab Sherpao handed over 4,000 Pakistanis to foreigners. He added that Musharraf had himself admitted to having done so and that parliament did not raise its voice against the former president and interior minister. “He should have been questioned that according to which law he handed people to foreign elements,” Iqbal added.

He said, “Musharraf and his lawmakers were given dollars for handing over the people.” The NAB chairman said that he was in favour of placing a ban on foreign NGOs working within Pakistan. “These NGOs are working for foreign elements and they do get their funding from abroad. If I had the authority, I would have placed a ban on the organisations,” he added.

Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal also briefed the committee about the performance of the commission. He said that from March 2011 to February 2018, the commission resolved a total of 3,219 cases.

Currently, he added, the commission was investigating 1,710 cases, while an additional 368 cases were received from the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances during the past few years, majority of which had been resolved.

During the meeting, committee member Naseema Hafeez requested for the media to provide coverage to Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) leader Manzoor Pashteen, saying “He is fighting for the rights of missing persons and their families.”

To this end, Javed Iqbal responded that he would call upon Pashteen regarding the issue and that he would ask him for the list of missing persons. He said that often the kidnapped people refrain from sharing details of the incident out of fear. “A terrorist’s family should not be labelled a terrorist,” he argued.

The NAB chief said that statistics shared for the missing persons in Balochistan were contradictory to reality. “There have been several militant groups present in the province and many ‘missing persons’ have gone along with them,” he said. Former CM Balochistan Aslam Raisani and Nasrullah Baloch had been tasked to provide with the list but to no avail, the NAB chief complained.

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