KARACHI, Oct 31: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Sunday assured families of the 28 missing supporters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement that his government would make every possible effort to locate the missing people.

Mr Aziz heard the families' grievance at the Governor's House and held out the assurance that he would discuss the matter with the Sindh governor and chief minister and direct them to take steps in this regard.

Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad, Chief Minister Dr Arbab Rahim, Home Minister Rauf Siddiqui, IGP and DG Rangers were also present on this occasion.

The prime minister expressed his serious concern over the situation and noted that these people could not be located for a decade together. "I realize that the absence of a family member, especially a male one, creates a great vacuum in the family. It is really agonising when a loved one goes missing and the family fails to get any information about the person's whereabouts," he said.

"The history cannot be changed," he remarked, and added that the government, however, would certainly make efforts to locate the missing people.

He advised the aggrieved families to remain in touch with the governor for any progress in this matter.

Earlier, Dr Ibad briefed the prime minister about the families' ordeal, and said that the families had been asking a lot of questions about the fate of their loved ones. "But we have not been able to respond to their queries."

The families told the prime minister that their loved ones had actually been arrested by police during the PPP government. Naseerullah Babar was the interior minister at that time. They further stated that the 28 arrested people had been subjected to torture after arrest and since then nobody knew their whereabouts.

They complained that for the past eight years, they had been appealing to different quarters for help in locating them, but to no avail.

They complained that no action had been taken again the police officials involved in the affair although eyewitnesses were there.

They also named some police officers, including Chaudhri Aslam, Sarwar Commando, Naeem Ahmad, Baharuddin Babar, Din Mohammad Baloch and Haji Nadeem, and claimed that they were involved in extrajudicial killings, as well as disappearance of detained people.

Instead of punishment, such officials got promotions, they regretted.

They recalled that in 1997, due to the efforts of the then army chief Gen Jehangir Karamat, lives of four other arrested people had been saved. However, they added, the matter had been pushed into dormant alleys. The adjutant general of the army had termed it 'a sensitive matter'. Later, the missing people were killed and buried somewhere at Margalla hills, they claimed, but no action had been taken against the interior minister.

The aggrieved families argued, "if the arrested people were wanted in some cases, why they were not produced in any court of law?"

The victims whose families met the prime minister included Sami Beg, Gohar Anis, Ashfaq Ahmad, Asif Jameel, Zafeer Ahmad, Anwar Ansari, Mohammad Javed Yamin, Shaikh Noor Alam, Tauseef Alam, Zafar Ahmad , Abid Rashid and Abdul Aleem.

DEVELOPMENT: Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has assured the nation that the government will do its best to steer Pakistan to a place where it really ought to be, adds APP.

"This country has great potential, the best human force in the world, the resource-based allocation which is second to none, and we are at the crossroads of South Asia, Middle East and Central Asia," Mr Aziz said while speaking at an Iftar dinner hosted by Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad at the Governor's House on Saturday.

He recalled that during his last visit, he had performed the ground-breaking ceremony of the road from Mai Kolachi to sub-marine chowk and in his current visit, he laid the foundation of the multi-level flyover at Hino Chowk.

The federal government, he said, wanted to play its role to make Karachi the world's most significant and important city. "And this needs only some courage," he remarked.

Announcing that the government wanted to improve its water, sewerage and electricity systems, the premier said that the 100 MGD K-III water supply project would be completed on time while efforts were on to give KESC into private sector for an improvement in its performance. He said plans were afoot for the installation of desalination and power generation plants.

He referred to his election to the National Assembly from Sindh and said he would always remain indebted to the people of Sindh.