On the annual International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, our country is once again in the limelight for its poor record on the issue. Despite the ruling by Pakistan’s superior court and the United Nations’ working group’s insistence, the government has completely failed to resolve an issue, which calls for immediate and complete end to the ruthless practice, recovery of the victims and meaningful efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Moreover, the passing of Protection of Pakistan Bill 2014 into law has literally strengthened the culture of impunity with which the perpetrators act. This is very dangerous and negates the very basis of human rights. It is true that there might be such detainees as well who were involved in anti-State activities, however, it should not deprive anyone of his basic right to contest the accusations against him in a court of law. Fears regarding misuse of this law cannot be ruled out in our country where practice of justice in general is rare, where tolerance for difference of opinion is fast wearing out and where might is right is established.
According to reports, many political activists, human rights defenders, journalists, and lawyers have become victims of enforced disappearances across Pakistan. Their families have no knowledge of their whereabouts. Their misery is indeed beyond one’s imagination. Many are suffering in silence, as those who have been raising this issue, questioning the government and demanding recovery of their missing family members have so far received no justice. Mama Qadeer’s bare-foot march on the capital was both far longer and exhausting than the 100 km per hour twin marches witnessed recently.
The situation is very grim. International human rights organisations count Pakistan as a very dangerous place in this regard. It is the government’s obligation both under the international law and Pakistan’s Constitution that it prevents enforced disappearances. To ends this culture of impunity the government must ensure the implementation of the Supreme Court’s rulings in letter and spirit, which demand justice for the missing persons and their aggrieved families.