ISLAMABAD: Family members of Mudassar Naaru meeting Prime Minister Imran Khan.—APP
ISLAMABAD: Family members of Mudassar Naaru meeting Prime Minister Imran Khan.—APP

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday assured the family of Mudassar Naaru of a thorough investigation and all-out support in locating the ‘missing’ journalist and blogger.

The prime minister made this commitment while meeting Naaru’s family members, including his minor son, at the Prime Minister Office (PMO).

According to the PMO, the premier ordered the officials concerned to submit a “complete report” on the whereabouts of Naaru, who has been missing since August 2018.

During the meeting, Naaru’s parents “gave details of what they were going through” since their son went missing more than three years ago, Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari, who was present in the meeting, tweeted.

Assures Mudassar Naaru’s family of thorough probe, all-out support

The prime minister met with Naaru’s family after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) last week directed Dr Mazari, in the missing journalist’s case, that the PM and cabinet members meet the family for his early recovery.

“[The] PM reassured them and immediately issued orders for [a] complete report on Naaru’s whereabouts and on exactly what happened,” she wrote.

In a statement, Ms Mazari added “the family felt reassured by the PM, who also said he would ensure the welfare of the young child”.

In August 2018, Naaru had gone on a vacation to Kaghan valley, but did not return. He was last spotted near the Kaghan river. Initially, his family and friends thought he might have accidentally fallen into the river and drowned, but his body was never recovered. Speculations were also rife that Naaru had killed himself, a claim instantly rejected by the family, saying he had no signs of despair.

As per media reports, his family tried to lodge a first information report (FIR) against “unidentified persons”. When the police refused to cooperate, they were forced to approach civil rights organisations, but to no avail. A few months following the disappearance, one of his friends said he had spotted Naaru at a ‘missing persons’ detention centre. That was the last time anyone had heard of him.

In a petition being heard by the IHC seeking the journalist’s recovery, it has been asserted that Naaru, who was also an activist and a human rights defender, had been receiving threats allegedly from officials of state institutions before he went missing on Aug 19, 2018.

In October 2018, his father, the petitioner, approached the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances. The initiation of proceedings by the Commission led to the registration of a criminal FIR followed by the formation of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT).

The petitioner stated that he was not kept informed about the JIT’s proceedings nor was its report shared with him. From 2018 till the filing of the petition this year, the Commission has reportedly held several meetings/hearings. According to the JIT, the journalist has gone ‘missing’ on his own.

While taking up the petition last Wednesday, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah had asked Dr Mazari to suggest to the cabinet to consider the proposal of imposing a cost on the respective chief executive in whose tenures a citizen went missing.

“The practice of enforced disappearances has existed in Pakistan over a considerable time. The existence of this phenomenon is intolerable in a society governed under the Constitution,” the court noted.

It further observed that enforced disappearance was “a crime against humanity and one of the most detestable manifestations of violation of fundamental rights”.

PM advises civil servants: Vowing to make Pakistan a regional economic leader, Prime Minister Khan came down hard on the previous governments over “faulty long-term planning”.

Criticising what he called the “lack of long-term planning by previous governments”, the prime minister said: “The present government has initiated work on the construction of 10 dams in order to meet the energy and water requirements of the country. Our government inherited huge fiscal debts due to corruption and malpractices of the previous regimes,” he added.

He gave these remarks while addressing officers of the 115th National Management Course. “As decision makers, there will always be two choices: the easy way of earning money and corruption that leads to destruction, and the other is to earn respect and growth which is slow and full of challenges,” he said, adding that civil servants bore a huge responsibility of serving the public and striving for welfare of the masses.

Discussing the need for a single national curriculum, the prime minister said parallel education systems had led to class distinctions.

While answering a question about extremism and the rising number of crimes against women and children, Prime Minister Khan said the main objective of establishing the Rehmatul Lil Alameen Authority was to raise the moral standards of society. “The authority will conduct research and provide guidance based on the life of our Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH),” he said, adding that children had access to every kind of material through mobile phones and for an immature mind such content gave way to misconceptions and extremism.

PM Khan said using force was not a solution to eliminate extremism, rather instilling moral and ethical values in the young generation would create a moderate, tolerant and progressive society.

Achieving economic growth and prosperity was a gradual process, he further said, but the government was committed to implementing long-term reforms in all sectors that would lead to Pakistan becoming a regional leader as it was in the 1970s.

Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2021

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