PAKISTAN: Government should release all disappeared persons in custody of police and intelligence services

The forced disappearances of political opponents by the state intelligence services continues in spite of newly elected government’s claims that the issue will be solved when the coalition partners come into power. However, since the formation of the mew government no serious moves have been initiated to address the issue. on the contrary, the state intelligence agencies are operating freely with the knowledge of government. Since the formation of the new government about 31 persons are missing after their arrests, mostly, from the southern province of Balochistan where military operations continue. Some religious groups claim that more than 23 persons, mostly the young and students are missing after arrest.

The ‘War on Terror’ after the attack on the World Trade Centre in America has given the Pakistani military authorities a free hand to arrest opponents of the government and religious activists, torture them and keep them incommunicado for several months in order to obtain confessional statements. This terrible injustice is being continued even after the formation of the newly elected government as the Pakistan army is refusing them access to their domain.

The advisor to the prime minister and minister in charge of interior affairs has said, in his recent visit to the Balochistan province, on August 27, 2008, that 1102 persons are still missing from Balochistan and the government will try to locate them. His acceptance of the statistics that more than 1000 persons are missing is itself an indication that government has no control over the law enforcement authorities and furthermore, has no intention to initiate any probe in the affairs of state intelligence agencies particularly the I.S.I. The former interior minister in the cabinet of ex-president Musharraf told the national assembly in December 2005 that 4000 persons have been arrested in Balochistan province. However, nationalists and human rights organizations of the province claim that not more than 100 persons have been produced before any court. This is nothing less than a gross violation of human rights by the state that allows its authorities to place its people at the mercy of the intelligence agencies.

The people, who were released after several months incommunicado testified before the courts and media that they were arrested by the police and were handed over to intelligence agencies who kept them in military torture cells and tortured them to obtain confessional statements that they were involved in the anti state activities. Please see the links, UA-171-2006, UP-001-2007, UA-413-2006, The two persons, Dr. Safdar Sarki, the nationalist leader of the Sindh province and Mr. Muneer Mengal, managing editor of a television channel, were released during the first quarter of this year after they had been missing for more than a year. They were dumped by the intelligence agencies on the roadside with torture injuries. Amazingly, immediately after they were thrown on the roadside the police came and arrested them on several criminal charges.

The minister in charge has not given any indication of the fate of at least 1102 persons which are according to him, are missing. He was shy to point out that the missing persons are in the custody of law enforcement agencies. He knows the fact that if he works for the recovery of the missing persons he may be removed as minister and would face the same fate as the deposed Chief Justice Mr. Iftekhar Choudry. The chief justice during 2006 and 2007 started taking the cases of missing persons and because of his strong efforts about 110 persons were released from the captivity of intelligence agencies who dumped the missing persons on the street in remote areas.

52 torture centres:

The Asian Human Rights Commission, in its report AHRC-STM-158-2008, dated June 5, 2008, has mentioned that Pakistan army is running is at least 52 torture and detention centres through out the country where the people are kept in incommunicado for several months and torture severely and so many killed or disabled for life. The authorities have done nothing to investigate these cells. Every cantonment area has at least one torture cell which is directly run by the state intelligence agency. The government must demand that the illegal detention and torture centres be shut down and instigate enquiries.

Dr. Afia Siddiqui case:

Dr. Afia Siddiqui, a Pakistani female scientist, was kept almost 5 years in incommunicado by the Pakistani and US authorities in different torture cells of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The case became very high profile when the AHRC pointed out that ‘prisoner 650’ in Bagram prison of Afghanistan is the Dr. Afia who is being tortured severely and not has been provided privacy. She became public discourse for the entire world when the US authorities in New York came out with the statement that she was arrested on July 18, 2008.

This is the ample proof of how Pakistani authorities arrest people and disappear them so easily. It has been established that she was arrested on March 30, 2003 and was officially declared arrested on July 2008. If she was arrested by the Afghani police on the charges of attacking American officers then why was she produced before the New York court? The whole story is about a covert operation under the name of the ‘war on terror’. The whereabouts of her 2 children remain unknown

Northern parts of the country:

Since the war on terror the disappearances after the arrests are common in North Western Frontier Province (NWFP) where NATO and Pakistani forces are engaged in their fight but the ordinary people particularly religious ones are the main target of disappearances. Both the forces, Pakistani and militant fundamentalists are arresting people and taking them to secret places after that the whereabouts of the victims are unknown. Militants are generally killing them but Pakistani authorities are engaged in keeping in incommunicado. Pakistani authorities can not overpower the kidnap and abduction by the militants as they are themselves involved in the same practices. When any missing persons is released by the Pakistani law enforcement agencies he joins the militants and start the same method what he faced during illegal detention. In the NWFP more than 2000 persons are missing including some officers from Pakistani army.

The Asian Human Rights Commission urges upon the government that, at least, gets the release of 1102 missing people from Balochistan province about whom the Advisor of prime minister on Interior affairs has himself pointed out during his recently visit to the province. This the duty of the government when it knows about the fact that people in hundreds of numbers are missing than it should make the arrangement of their release as it is well known fact the most of the people in Balochistan are abducted by the state intelligence agencies and are kept in incommunicado in the military’s torture cells, all in the cantonment areas of the country. The government should also make it sure about their safety and pay the compensation to them.

The government should also immediately work to ensure the safety of the lives and the release of Dr. Afia’s two sons who have been missing since March 2003. The third nine years old child of Dr. Afia Siddiqui who is in prison in Afghanistan prison must be returned to Pakistan. It should not be necessary to point out that the arrest and detention of a nine-year-old is an abomination and those responsible must be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law.


Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-229-2008
Countries : Pakistan,
Campaigns : Stop Disappearances in Pakistan
Issues : Enforced disappearances and abductions,