Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif assured the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday of making all-out efforts for the re covery of missing persons. The Prime Minister informedthe court that the government had constituted a cabinet committee on enforced disappearances and so far, its six meetings were

held, promising the court that he would monitor every meeting of the committee and submit a report. “I will not give any lame excuses,” said the premier to the court. Despite these assurances, our expectations from the government regarding the issue of missing persons are low, considering past conduct. The solution the government has presented, of a cabinet committee on enforced disappearances which would then submit a report, is a tried and failed strategy that does not match the gravity of this human rights issue. Committees have been formed, and reports have been promised to be released in the past, with no result. In October 2018, the thenPrime Minister ordered the officials concerned to submit a “complete report” on the whereabouts of Mudassar Naaru, who

had been missing since August. A JIT was formed, but its verdict was inadequate, with the JIT stating that the journalist had gone “missing” on his own, nor was the JIT’s report shared with him. This government is not faultless either—the court had to order Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to ensure that the missing persons were produced in the next hearing, warning that the failure to do so would require him to appear in person on the said date and give an explanation.Thus, the court’s laments that the government has not appreciated the gravity of this offence and the State had failed to protect the fundamental rights of citizens are legitimate. Disappearances have risen and it is unfortunate that such cases are not treated with the seriousness they deserve, especially considering the impact that their rise has on press freedom and the international image of the country. The fact that the government was not able to keep in check where its citizens are disappearing, does not reflect well on the international image of Pakistan.