Missing chairperson

In what can only be called a halting process, the missing persons case has been deliberated upon once again. A three-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC) has given the government one week to appoint a chairman of the judicial commission that it recommended be set up back in early May. More than three months have passed since this initial recommendation but the executive has still to assign someone to spearhead this most sensitive of inquiries.

Additional Attorney General K K Agha was summoned by the SC to convey to the federal government the one-week deadline. All that can be said is that the lack of political will on display to actively probe into a case that deals with missing persons from all over the country shows just how serious the government is in getting to the bottom of the whole mess.

While the laziness and sidestepping of the government is, unfortunately, true to its character, it is encouraging that the SC has not let this matter slide into oblivion and has ordered the powers that be to get on with it. At the same time, however, the gusto and determination with which the SC was doggedly pursuing the missing persons case before being mauled by Musharraf contrasts markedly with the less forceful way it is addressing the case now, post restoration of the judiciary. The assertions by the SC a few years ago about how it would summon the head of the country’s intelligence agencies to answer the case seem to have been lost over time. The missing persons case needs the summoning of a mega dose of courage if we are ever again to see those vanished without a trace.

There also seems to be some confusion about the actual number of those missing — the SC is citing 138, Defence of Human Rights Pakistan is saying there are some 400, and the Baloch are claiming thousands. What is going on? Whilst the government pussyfoots its way round the issue, bullet-riddled tortured bodies are turning up almost daily in Balochistan. It is recommended that before the missing become the dead, the commission actually get on with the job it was formed for and a thorough investigation be carried out. The chief suspect is the intelligence/military establishment. It is time the impunity of those behind the disappearances ends and those who have vanished are accounted for. – Dailytimes