Senate HR body wants details on missing citizens -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Senate HR body wants details on missing citizens

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights directed the Interior Ministry and other departments on Monday to submit a comprehensive report on missing citizens, and said the issue had been threatening the country’s image at home and abroad.

“The committee wants to know the complete details of the missing citizens, because the matter has emerged as a major human rights issue that threatens the country’s image at home and abroad,” said Senator SM Zafar while presiding over a committee meeting that was attended by Senators Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Muhammad Abbas Komaili, Saeed Ahmed Hashmi and Dr Muhammad Said. The committee met here at Parliament House to discuss complaints about missing citizens.

Zafar said that the ministries and departments concerned had provided little information in too much time.

“It is just not sufficient to say that such and such people were wanted in such and such cases. There should be proper application of the law. The civilised world no longer buys such versions. Whatever the charges, they should be properly investigated and documented, and a legal course of action should be adopted,” said Zafar. He observed that protecting citizens’ life and property was the basic responsibility of the government, and such disappearances were the grossest violation of human rights.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, the chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, said that during his recent visits to the US and some European countries, when he raised the issue of missing citizens in Indian-held Kashmir, he was told that human rights were also being violated in Pakistan where disappearances had become “routine”.

The members of the committee said it was also an ethical issue, and a political government could not afford to look in another direction. “The issue is seriously undermining the credibility of the government,” said the members. They said that all accused people must be given a chance to defend themselves in a court of law.

An Interior Ministry representative said that the issue was being dealt with at the highest level. “We are in touch with the provincial governments, and have been able to find some of the missing citizens,” he said, adding that some of the reportedly missing people might have gone underground “on their own, that’s why media reports are being published that quite a few of them addressed press conferences and disappeared again”. “Had they been in our custody, the situation would have been different. The government is also probing their alleged links with terrorist and extremist organisations in view of the delicate security environment, especially in Balochistan and the tribal areas,” he said.

The head of the Ministry of Law and Justice’s human rights wing told the meeting that the wing had been taking action in each and every case or application it had received. “We are also pursuing the matter with the provincial governments and other relevant agencies and departments,” he said.

Zafar took stern notice of Interior Minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao and Interior Secretary Syed Kamal Shah’s absence from the meeting.
Source: Daily Times