Enforced Disappearances Continue in Pakistan

Amnesty International

Enforced disappearances of Pakistani citizens has long been an issue highlighted by human rights groups inside and outside the country. However, successive governments have turned a blind eye or ignored this serious issue.

In 2011, the government set up a Commission of Inquiry into Missing Persons. As of end-2021, the body received complaints in at least 8,154 cases, of which 2,274 remain unresolved. In November 2021, Amnesty International brought out a report titled “Living Ghosts”, based on interviews with 10 family members of people “whose fate remains unknown after they were abducted by Pakistan’s security services”.

Recently, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan issued a statement expressing concern about the forcible disappearance of four Pashtun workers following the bomb blast that occurred in Anarkali, Lahore, on 20 January. According to HRCP this was not the first such occurrence and has instead become a pattern and is not limited to Pashtuns but also applies to Baluch and other minority ethnic groups. “This has become a worryingly familiar pattern, with four Baloch students similarly detained without charge during raids on 22 January in connection with the Anarkali blast and then released. We demand that all four be located and their right to physical integrity and dignity of person guaranteed. If they—or indeed anyone—are to be detained at all, then law enforcement personnel are duty-bound to follow procedure and clearly indicate on what charge they have been detained and where they are being held.”


Author: Alia Khan