The premier world human rights organization Amnesty International in a rare open letter to the government of Pakistan called upon Islamabad to resolve the crisis of enforced disappearances.
On the occasion of 30 August, International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, Amnesty International urges the Pakistan government to demonstrate the political will to resolve Pakistan’s crisis of enforced disappearances once and for all, an Amnesty statement signed by secretary general Salil Shetty and released by its world office in London said.
Shetty’s lengthy open letter was addressed to Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.
“The fate of thousands taken by state officials or those acting on their behalf, held out of sight and without charge, denied access to lawyers and loved ones, remains unknown to this day,” Shetty deplored.
“Pakistan’s armed forces, including their intelligence services and paramilitary forces officially under the authority of the executive, are the primary organ of the state accused of committing enforced disappearances.”
The armed forces act with very limited judicial or executive oversight, Shetty said.
The letter said the Government of Pakistan has made little progress in determining the fate of thousands of “missing persons” despite its repeated promises since being elected into office in March 2008. At the time, the government signalled that it would break from the practice of secret detention that was common under the military rule of former President Pervez Musharraf.
“Alarmingly, enforced disappearances have not only persisted across every province and territory of Pakistan under this government’s watch, but even gathered pace in Balochistan and Sindh provinces. Suspected insurgents, political activists, journalists, lawyers and others across Pakistan continue to be subjected to enforced disappearance,” Shetty said.
The letter said enforced disappearances, abductions and extra-judicial executions continue with impunity at an alarming rate in Balochistan. Reportedly, hundreds of Baloch activists, teachers, journalists and lawyers have been abducted or killed in the last two years alone. The bullet-ridden bodies of individuals, who have been forcibly disappeared or abducted and many bearing apparent marks of torture, are found
across the province almost every day.
The intelligence and security forces deny their involvement, but “in many of the cases Amnesty International has documented, the victims were last seen alive being led away by uniformed Frontier Corps soldiers, often accompanied by men in plain clothes, in front of multiple witnesses at military checkposts and in cities and towns.”
Though Amnesty mostly blamed Islamabad, Islamic militants and Baloch separatists have also been involved in scores of cases of enforced disappearances.