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Pak Senate panel to summon intel agencies over missing persons case

ANI | Updated: Dec 08, 2017 12:32 IST

Islamabad [Pakistan], December 8 (ANI): A Senate committee in Pakistan has agreed to call officials of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the Military Intelligence (MI) and the Frontier Corps (FC) to explain the rise in the incidents of missing persons in Balochistan.

A meeting of the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights, chaired by Senator Nasreen Jalil, on Thursday, also agreed to listen to the recovered persons and then confront the agencies for their disappearance, The Express Tribune reported.

"I think enough of listening to the figures and statements of Balochistan government representatives and let us call a spade a spade and summon the actual people about these disappearances," Senator Farhatullah Babar was quoted as saying to the committee.

Asserting that the matter was not relevant to the Balochistan government as it was beyond the provincial dispensation, Babar said that everyone knows who is responsible for such disappearances but nobody would say it.

Earlier, Balochistan Additional Secretary Hameedul Nasir updated the committee on missing persons cases and informed that out of 387 missing persons, 136 are still missing and about 131 are traced, 104 have returned to their homes and 27 dead bodies had been identified.

He added that those 104 who have returned had refused to speak about their disappearance after police approached them as a follow-up on first information reports (FIRs).

However, Nasir said concerns have been expressed to relevant authorities after a few released persons named some agencies.

Babar told the Committee that the Commission on Enforced Disappearances had also failed as it could not even do what it could have done as per the mandate given to it by the Parliament.

The committee recommended the abolition of the commission and replacing it with a new one with expert investigators as its members.

The committee said that the new panel should be required to make its report public unlike the current commission.

Babar noted that the commission has done nothing to show by way of pursuing investigations or filing FIRs against individuals or institutions found involved in enforced disappearances despite it taking credit for having recovered over 2,000 missing persons during the last six years.

The committee also made Babar's proposal to invite the recovered missing persons and speak with them so that the discussion on the missing persons was taken forward, as part its recommendations.

Emphasising that the issue must be taken seriously, Senator Jehanzeb Jamaldini said that the officials of the ISI, MI and FC should be called to the committee meeting to explain reasons for these "disappearances with impunity".

The enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings and an escalating crackdown on freedom of expression are used as covert tools to brutally repress the peaceful struggle for justice, rights and equality of the Baloch in the region.

Reports say at least 8,000 Balochs are still the victims of enforced disappearances in Balochistan, while 1,500 such victims were killed and dumped, according to human rights organisations.

Last month, the Amnesty International had called upon the authorities in Pakistan to immediately end enforced disappearances in the country.

Alarmed by the reports it has received on enforced disappearances, particularly of activists in southwestern province of Balochistan, Amnesty International called Islamabad to carry out independent and effective investigations to determine the fate of all missing people.

It asked the Pakistan authorities to either release the person in their custody or charge them with a recognisable criminal offence.

The Amnesty International said that anyone reasonably suspected of criminal responsibility for enforced disappearances must be held to account through fair trials.

While some of the people reported to have been disappeared have been returned home over recent days, there are credible reports that others are still missing.

It emphasised that the enforced disappearances are a blight on Pakistan's human rights record, with hundreds and possibly thousands of cases reported across the country over the past several years. (ANI)