Pakistan is celebrating its 75th year of independence but marginalized sections of Pakistani society still suffer from the iron fist of the deep state. One such tactic by the Pakistani deep state is the practice of enforced disappearance.
International law defines an enforced disappearance “as the detention of anyone by state forces or their agents who refuse to acknowledge the detention or whereabouts of the person, placing them outside the protection of the law. In Pakistan the victims are most often from the marginalized sections of society, and once forcibly disappeared they are often at risk of torture and extrajudicial execution.”
The current government led by PPP-PML-N has offered to do more on this front and have appointed a Cabinet subcommittee on missing persons. However, as a recent press release by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) points out, “expressions of solidarity can be no substitute for concrete action towards safely recovering victims of enforced disappearances. Such action, in turn, requires that the perpetrators be identified and held responsible through a transparent and effective mechanism.”
Since March 2011, 8,463 complaints of enforced disappearances have been received by Pakistan’s Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances. Activists estimate the real number to be higher. According to the HRCP the current commission “remains a painfully inadequate mechanism for ensuring that victims receive justice. Given the poor record and controversies that dog its current chairman, HRCP demands that he be removed, and the commission’s mandate strengthened to ensure its independence and integrity.”