Those involved in enforced disappearances were more powerful than state, Farhatullah Babar

Islamabad Politics Report/Moazzam Raza Tabassam: Former Senator Farhatullah Babar has said that those involved in enforced disappearances in Pakistan were invisible and more powerful than the state.

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

Speaking at a seminar on missing persons at the Islamabad High Court Bar today he said that when the Supreme Court, the Parliament and the civilian governments all fail in tracing the missing persons.

Farhatullah Babar said that after General 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?

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

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 Minister Human Rights 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 some other people are calling the shots.

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

Some missing persons have been shifted to internment centres when it was no longer possible to keep them in custody, he said.

However, these internment centres are the Abu Ghuraib prisons of Pakistan as there is no complete information about them nor about how many of them died while in custody.

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

He called for criminalizing 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 Ghuraib prisons in Pakistan called internment centers.

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 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 President of Islamabad High Court Bar Association Javed Akbar Shah and chairperson of Defence of Human Rights Amina Masood Janjua.

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