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Sunday July 14, 2024

Missing persons

By Editorial Board
December 15, 2021

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has categorically said that the missing persons issue is a test case for the state, which should clarify its position in the matter. The case under consideration relates to missing journalist Mudassar Naaru. The court also highlighted the inability or unwillingness of the Commission for Inquiry of Enforced Disappearances (CIED) with regard to doing something concrete about this problem. According to the court, there are thousands of families whose loved ones have gone missing but no one bothers. Indeed as the family of Mudassar Naaru met Prime Minister Imran Khan, he expressed ignorance regarding the case and according to Naaru's mother quickly gave orders to look into the matter. He also spoke with sympathy and care to the small child who had now been left parentless. Beyond this, we wonder what will happen. In the past, there have been too many examples of persons whose families have made desperate efforts to locate them, but gone unheard with no discovery of their loved one made even after decades.

Every time a court calls a government official, the usual response is that the government needs more time to submit a report on the matter. What needs to be done is for either the state to produce the missing persons if they are in state custody; and if they are not, the state must strive to locate the missing persons. This is not a new issue in Pakistan. But there is no open discussion on this and no visible effort to recover such persons. It is about time the state took it up as a challenge.

Despite thousands of complaints about the missing persons, there have not been thorough investigations in such cases, which have remained unresolved for years. If anyone commits a crime, or the state has concerns about some activist or journalist, there are constitutional and legal ways to go about them. Blaming somebody for ‘anti-state’ activities has become a common practice and there are far too many ‘traitors’ around. This is a matter we simply cannot ignore any further. It has caused misery to dozens of families and it is now time to bring the sequence of disappearances to an end and to recover those who are still missing today.