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728 added to list of missing persons in 2016

Updated Jan 24, 2017 08:58am

ISLAMABAD: Another 728 Pakistanis were added to the list of missing persons in 2016 - the highest in at least six years - taking the total to 1,219, according to the Inquiry Commission on Enforced Disappearances.

Also known as the missing persons commission, it disposed of 899 cases last year, a report compiled by the commission said.

In 2015, as many as 649 cases of missing persons were registered with the commission, which disposed of 524 of them.

According to statistics available with Dawn, the highest number of missing person cases was registered with the commission in 2016.

In January last year, 56 cases were reported to the commission, in February 66, in March 44, April 99, May 91, June 60, July 94, August 55, September 34, October 36, November 45 and 48 in December.

According to the report, during the last six years the commission received 3,740 complaints from different parts of the country out of which 2,521 were decided till December 31. The commission held 398 proceedings, including 212 in Islamabad and 186 in Karachi.

The report claimed that since 2011 the commission traced 1,882 missing persons while 338 cases were disposed of.

From 2011 to 2016, cases of 121 missing persons were reported from the Islamabad capital territory (ICT), 752 from Punjab, 1,010 from Sindh, 1,425 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 276 from Balochistan, 112 from Fata, 40 from Azad Kashmir and four from Gilgit-Baltistan.

On the other hand, 44 missing people belonging to the capital territory were traced during the year along with 374 from Punjab, 692 from Sindh, 617 from KP, 101 from Balochistan, 42 from Fata and 40 from AJK.

Besides, 296 cases were deleted from the list as they disappeared on their own or were kidnapped for ransom.

Sources said the commission disposed of cases of those people whose bodies were recovered or it was brought into the knowledge of the commission that the missing persons were detained in jail or internment centres.

Amna Masood Janjua, the chairperson Defence of Human Rights (DHR), termed the statistics disappointing.

She said in a majority of the traced cases the relatives could get the bodies of the missing persons or they were informed that their relatives were detained at some internment centre.

“It is very difficult to meet a detained person at an internment centre.”

She said the family members have to obtain an approval from five departments after which they are allowed to meet the detained person for not more than 15 minutes that too after an interval of one month.

The DHR had suggested reforms to expedite the proceedings on the missing person cases which included the establishment of commissions at the provincial level. “But the quarters concerned did not give any weightage to our proposal,” she said.

When contacted, Fareed Ahmed Khan, the secretary to the commission, insisted that the performance of the commission was encouraging as 899 cases were disposed of last year.

“Since we receive a large number of cases every month and are already burdened, we cannot provide instant relief to the complainants as we need to collect information from different quarters.” He said due to the pendency of cases some of the complainants expressed dissatisfaction on the system.

Published in Dawn, January 6th, 2017