Missing & Forgotten

For the third time till the caretaker government took charge, the Prime Minister has failed to appear before the Islamabad High Court in a case pertaining to missing persons and stu­dents. The absence of the caretaker PM speaks volumes on the ne­glect and the misplaced priorities. This case concerns citizens of the country who were never given the right to a fair trial and were taken away from their families on non-existent charges. The care­taker government’s callousness in the face of the utter seriousness of the IHC’s Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani is a sorry state of affairs. This concerns Pakistan’s young citizens, some very promising stu­dents who were abducted and never returned.

The non-appearance of the PM as well as caretaker interior and defence ministers underscores a troubling pattern of im­punity. Disinterest just because they are part of a caretaker set­up which will soon be replaced by an elected government does not hold as a fair justification. The non-profits have reported more than fifty enforced disappearances in 2023 alone. While yes some of the total number of missing persons have been re­united with their families, the shock of extrajudicial killings of missing people is unimaginable and utter disrespect for the law and justice system of the country.

The latest twenty-fourth hearing of the case represents the court’s insistence on holding top officials accountable and deliv­ering justice to missing Baloch students and their families. While the court is upholding the rule of law, it is distressing to see that law enforcers are failing to stop enforced disappearances despite assurances and presenting affidavits before the court. Putting off the matter from one hearing to another seems to be the attitude. The attorney general’s repeated pleas to transfer the matter to the upcoming elected government is proof of this.

Nevertheless, for the coming government, this will be a chal­lenge to address. The recommendations of the Commission that was formed in 2011 to inquire about the whereabouts of miss­ing persons have not been implemented or taken seriously by governments. For the new, incoming officeholders, the unset­tled agony of missing persons will be a test. Neglect should not be the answer, for this is about the citizens of the country.

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