Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari disclosed on Saturday that Prime Minister Imran Khan would meet a three-member representative committee of the families of missing persons — who have been protesting in the capital for more than a week — in March.
In a tweet, Mazari said she met the protesting families of the missing persons at Express Chowk, Islamabad, today and conveyed the prime minister's message to them.
She also assured the families of the government's "commitment to ensure an end to this practice of enforced disappearances through legislation", adding that the "process is now moving forward".
In an accompanying press release, the human rights minister shared that she met the protesters on the premier's instructions and conveyed his message that had three points:
- The protesters should end their dharna.
- The prime minister would meet a three-member representative committee from among the protesters in March in a meeting arranged by Mazari.
- The protesters would hand over a list of the missing persons so their status could be ascertained and communicated to the prime minister before the meeting.
The families she met requested that priority should be given to the missing persons of the 13 families who are present at the dharna, Mazari added.
Cabinet expresses concern
Earlier this week, a meeting of the federal cabinet had expressed concern over the longstanding issue of missing persons and directed the authorities concerned to make prompt legislation in the parliament to ensure that there was no missing person in the present government.
During the meeting, Mazari had informed the prime minister that a proposed bill to stop the disappearance of people was lying with the law ministry for over two years but nothing was being done on it.
The prime minister intervened and asked all stakeholders to sit together and proposed a consensus bill for necessary amendments to the relevant laws.
On that same day, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz and Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid had met the families of the missing persons to show solidarity with them.
Maryam had asked the government to at least inform the families of missing persons about the fate of their relatives. She also urged the army chief and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director general to play their role to address the issue.
She criticised the government for not reaching out to the protesters, saying that it was the duty of the state to take care of its citizens.
Rashid informed them that the government was taking the issue seriously and would adopt all possible measures for their recovery.
The families of the missing persons had set up a camp outside the National Press Club last week but after failing to get the government’s attention, decided to march towards D-Chowk on Feb 16.