State agencies involved in enforced disappearances: Farhatullah Babar

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ISLAMABAD: Former senator and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Farhatullah Babar has said that after General (r) Musharraf’s admission of secretly handing over hundreds of alleged militants to the US after 9/11 in return for millions of dollars, there is no need for any proof that state agencies are involved in enforced disappearances.

Speaking at a seminar on missing persons at the Islamabad High Court Bar on Thursday, the PPP leader said that when the Supreme Court (SC), the parliament and the civilian governments, all fail in tracing the missing persons, it clearly means that those involved were invisible and more powerful than the state.

Till today not one person has been arrested and punished for the crime, he said.

He lauded the IHC verdict of March this year authored by Justice Athar Minallah in which the court ordered financial compensation to the victim’s family and imposed fines on state functionaries including an army official and former police IG.

He said that he was shocked that instead of acting upon this landmark verdict, the government decided to go in appeal against it and that also within a month of the human rights minister promising amendments in law to make enforced disappearance a criminal offense.

“The human rights minister is an honorable person and she could not have taken this decision on her own,” he said, adding that some other people are calling the shots.

He said that people are forced to think that such total impunity can be enjoyed only by those individuals and institutions who reject transparency and accountability.

Some missing persons have been shifted to internment centres when it was no longer possible to keep them in custody, he said, adding that these internment centres are the Abu Ghraib prisons of Pakistan as there is no complete information about them nor about how many of them died while in custody.

He paid rich tribute to IHC Judge Athar Minallah, petitioner Mahira Sajid and the young lawyers who pleaded the case in the court.

He called for criminalising enforced disappearances as Sri Lanka had done and the adoption of the unanimous 2016 Senate report on missing persons that also included legislation for the oversight of state intelligence agency.

He also called for signing the Convention on Enforced Disappearances and a peep into the Abu Ghraib prisons of Pakistan which are called internment centres.

Farhatullah Babar also called for making public the 2010 report of the first Commission on Enforced Disappearances as well as of the UN Working Group that visited Pakistan in 2012.

He said that chairman of the commission Javed Iqbal recently informed the Senate HR Committee that 153 officials had been identified of involvement and asked as to what action had been taken against them.

The seminar was also addressed by Islamabad High Court Bar Association President Javed Akbar Shah and Defence of Human Rights chairperson Amina Masood Janjua.