Army sets up special cell on missing persons

Published July 6, 2019
Military spokesperson says all cases of enforced disappearances cannot be attributed to state agencies. — AFP/File
Military spokesperson says all cases of enforced disappearances cannot be attributed to state agencies. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Army on Fri­day said that a special cell on missing persons had been established at the General Headquarters (GHQ).

Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, in a meeting with Defence of Human Rights chairperson Amina Masood Janjua, disclosed that a special assistance cell was working at the GHQ to facilitate the process regarding missing persons.

The Defence of Human Rights is a non-governmental organisation that works on enforced disappearances. The ISPR chief met Ms Janjua to brief her on the efforts of the government and security forces for resolving the matter.

Military spokesperson says all cases of enforced disappearances cannot be attributed to state agencies

Although Gen Ghafoor had previously spoken about the issue at a recent press briefing, but it was rare for him to meet a NGO person working on the issue.

The meeting, although not directly related, but crucially comes after the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in a letter written to Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi last month said that “enforced disappearances is a human rights concern that has great resonance with the High Commissioner”. The correspondence reminded the foreign minister that UN human rights mechanisms had in the past also urged Pakistan government to address “widespread phenomenon of enforced and involuntary disappearances”.

Gen Ghafoor in his meeting with Ms Janjua said that the armed forces sympathised with families of missing persons, but all cases of enforced disappearances could not be attributed to the state agencies. “Those with state are under legal process,” he added.

The ISPR DG said some of those, who were unaccounted, could be in Afghanistan as part of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan ranks that had taken up sanctuary there or could be present in other conflict zones. “More so, there are many who got killed fighting as part of TTP against the state of Pakistan. Such individuals are also to be accounted somewhere while listing the missing persons,” he maintained.

Published in Dawn, July 6th, 2019

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