The case of missing persons is probably the most controversial and long-standing issue in Pakistan. Thousands of young men have disappeared without a trace and their families are unable to find them. They have received no media support, labelled anti-state for raising their voice, and efforts by the authorities to recover them have seldom seen any results.
The incumbent government has given importance to the case of missing persons and wants to resolve the matter. A protest was going in Islamabad for the past several weeks by families of the missing person demanding the recovery of their loved ones. The protests ended after being assured by human rights minister Shireen Mazari that the prime minister would meet them and address their grievances.
Mazari also assured that legislation will be passed to ensure an end to the practice of enforced disappearances. It is probably the first time that the federal cabinet expressed concern over this issue and is working to pass laws to ensure there is no missing person.
This will be a historic bill if passed and help a long way to stop the disappearance of people. The issue has tarnished Pakistan’s reputation, human rights record and raised doubts over personal freedoms and dissident. It is imperative this issue is resolved by prompt action and legislature.
It is disappointing to note that political leaders used the protest in Islamabad for their personal gains. Maryam Nawaz paid a visit but minced works as she called for state institutions to give solace to the families of the missing victims. There is a still a lack of political will and assurances from politicians that they are taking the issue seriously is certainly not enough and requires more action particularly the recovering of the missing persons.
There was hope after the establishment of the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances. The commission reported in 2019 that they have traced 3,938 out the 6,156 missing persons. The army had set up a special cell to facilitate the process of missing persons but the matter has dissipated ever since.
Some families have been protesting for over ten years to see their loved ones and want answers for the sake of closure. The government should protect the rights of its citizens and tell the truth to the families of the missing persons.