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Pakistan to set up committee to make policy on ‘enforced disappearances’

ISLAMABAD – The Pakistani government announced on Monday it would set up a committee to make policy on the issue of “enforced disappearances”.

The announcement came a day after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) said Pakistani rulers, past and present, needed to explain their alleged “tacit approval” of a policy of missing people.

On Sunday, the IHC gave a 15-page order saying military ruler General Pervez Musharraf as well as successive prime ministers, including the incumbent PM, needed to submit “affidavits explaining why the court may not order proceedings against them for alleged subversion of the Constitution in the context of undeclared tacit approval of the policy regarding enforced disappearances.”

In response to the court’s observation, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan announced on Twitter:

“Formation of committee on missing persons issue, notification issued by Interior Ministry.”

The committee will be chaired by Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar.

“Pervez Musharraf has candidly conceded in his autobiography In the Line of Fire that ‘enforced disappearances’ was an undeclared policy of the state,” Sunday’s IHC order said. “The onus is on each chief executive to rebut the presumption and to explain why they may not be tried for the offense of high treason.”

Pakistan, where militants have waged war against the state for decades, has long been plagued by enforced disappearances. Families say people are picked up by security forces, disappear often for years, and are sometimes found dead, with no official explanation. The Pakistan military has long denied it is involved in enforced disappearances.

In a rare statement on the matter issued in 2019, the army sympathised with the families of missing Balochs, saying that some may have joined militant groups and “not every person missing is attributable to the state”.

Courtesy: Daily Pakistan

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