The recent decision by the provincial government of Balochistan to set up a new commission to trace all missing persons would be the 3rd such government body given this task. There already exist the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, formed by the Supreme Court, and the commission setup by the Islamabad High Court.
However, as an editorial in Dawn notes, “While the state’s renewed interest in tracing the missing is commendable, it should be remembered that, instead of forming a multitude of commissions and committees, enforcing steps to hold those state elements, who are responsible for this deplorable practice, to account would go a long way in ending enforced disappearances.”
Further, the recently formed Balochistan commission “will only help trace those individuals “not involved in anti-state or terrorist activities”. ‘Anti-state’ is a broad, vague term, and can be misused by the government or the establishment to penalise even those who criticise state institutions within the confines of free speech.”
The Pakistani state has the tendency to act like an ostrich – instead of dealing with reality, it prefers to hide its head in the sand by simply setting up another commission. 75 years after independence, the people of Pakistan – including those ‘forcibly disappeared’ and their families – deserve more than simply another commission.