Enforced disappearances


The enforced disappearance is a curse in Pakistan where thousands of people are reportedly are disappeared for which the official agencies are held responsible – a fact that is denied by the agencies. If the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman were wanting to give Pakistan’s military establishment a clean ‘chit’ on matters of enforced disappearances – it may have backfired somewhat. Justice (rtd) Javed Iqbal told the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Human Rights that 70 percent of missing persons had links to militancy. Moreover, he believed it was fear that kept those who had been kidnapped from speaking out. And though he was good enough to point out that the state was also responsible for the families of those who go missing – this was not before dropping the mother of all bombshells.
For the NAB chief went on to detail how foreign intelligence agencies swoop into the country and illegally detain people while pinning the blame on both the ISI and the MI. Which may or may not be another way of hinting that the military establishment has lost control of Pakistan’s borders. If true, this is grave cause for concern. For it raises subsequent questions as to what else foreign spooks are capable of; particularly on the nuclear front. After all, there have long been whisperings of a CIA plan to secure the national arsenal in the event that the Islamists take over. Though that threat seems to have been neutralised; at least for the time being. The security apparatus is always one step ahead. Which is why it is engaged in mainstreaming militants.
Justice (rtd) Iqbal also pointed the finger at certain insurgent groups present in Balochistan that are known to be involved in abductions. This is a claim echoed by Ahmer Mustikhan, an activist and founder of the American Friends of Balochistan (AFP). Indeed, he goes one step further to contend that three militant groups based in the restive province have been backed by India’s RAW; to the tune of $15 million each in recent years. Among others on New Delhi’s payroll, according to Mustikhan, are the World Baloch Organisation (WBO) and Balochistan House.
Regardless of whether or not the controversial activist’s assertions have any weight to them – it is worth noting that these do fit in with the security apparatus’ own rhetoric of Indian meddling in Balochistan. Such activities were ‘confirmed’ by reformed asset and former Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan who said that the militant group received funding from both Indian and Afghan intelligence. All of which suggests that the law enforcement apparatus has been unable to eliminate terrorists, end foreign interference and keep Pakistanis safe. Which naturally begs the uncomfortable question: just who is guilty of anti-state activities?
Another issue is that the witch-hunt shows no signs of abating. Indeed, certain institutions will not be happy until Nawaz Sharif is politically no more. And caught up in the crossfire is the fourth estate. In fact, some might say that the latter is being used and abused to do the establishment’s dirty work. The Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) is not happy. He has blamed the country’s media for misreporting that the courts had banned speeches by the former prime minister and his daughter on the grounds of anti-judiciary content. Moreover, having recalled the Lahore High Court (LHC) order Justice Saqib Nisar confirmed that nothing therein directed PEMRA to go for the broadcast kill.
For in modern day democratic Pakistan the fourth estate is increasingly under fire. The message was bluntly sent earlier this month when the nation’s largest television network inexplicably disappeared from certain cable operators’ menus across parts of the country; a move which was widely believed to have been at the military establishment’s ‘request’ In addition, certain quarters of the print media have been under recent pressure to withdraw articles discussing the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM). The COAS has already termed the movement that has seen thousands of Pashtuns mobilise to demand their fundamental rights as being nothing more than anti-state “engineered protests”. This ‘capitulation’ has led to international figures such as Zalmay Khalilzad pose the question as to whether or not Pakistan’s mainstream media is in khaki pockets.