ISLAMABAD - A total of 1,828 cases of enforced disappearance were pending with the Commission of Enquiry on Enforced Disappearances, officials told a meeting held in the chair of Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on Thursday.

Besides these 1828 cases, the officials informed, 382 cases of enforced disappearance were deleted on different technical grounds including non-prosecution and incomplete addresses. They said that 2636 cases have been traced while 446 were found not to be cases of enforced disappearance.

The said commission received about 5290 cases of enforced disappearances since its inception in 2011. Chief Justice Saqib Nisar expressed his concern over the constitutional obligations of all the state institutions especially the courts on the subject being an issue relating to inviolable right of every citizen as to life and liberty.

A high profile meeting of all the law enforcement and intelligence agencies secretaries of defence and interior ministries was held at the Supreme Court Building.

The Chairman of Commission of Enquiry on Enforced Disappearances also attended the meeting. The meeting was aimed at discussing the status of enforced disappearance cases in the Commission as well as overall situation of missing persons.

During the meeting it was explained by the participants that the figures generally quoted regarding the enforced disappearance were extremely exaggerated and fact was so evident from the cases reported to the Commission. It was highlighted in the discussion that there was a wide gap between the public perception and the reality and that a far larger number of persons were shown as missing than actual. 

According to the press statement: “even the persons who have themselves gone abroad, languishing in the jails of different countries, especially Afghanistan and the Middle East are also wrongly included. Though some of them have crossed the borders to join terrorist outfits and a large number has also been identified who have been declared proclaimed offenders by the courts in different cases and have gone underground.” 

“That is besides the fact that in quoting the figure many of the cases are reported in duplication i.e. some cases are reported at different forums and counted twice,” it added. The Chief Justice was also informed that there was a reported role of hostile agencies of neighboring countries as well and in many of the cases the persons attempting to impersonate as officials of agencies are apprehended.

The CJ, however, emphasised that the Supreme Court would not tolerate such illegality regarding the life and liberty of the citizens. They were asked to devise a reporting mechanism to verify if some missing persons are not confined in jails of neighbouring countries or have joined terrorist outfits, crossing the borders. 

It was also emphasised that a proper forensic data of finger prints and DNA be developed as thousands of burials of unidentified dead bodies are made by NGOs like Edhi and others.

“That is besides, the need to have clear reporting of the persons killed in drone attacks and conflicts in neighbouring and other countries. Whereas, there is a large number of workers of an ethnic political group who are settled in South Africa, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern countries and generally they are wrongly counted in missing persons,” it added The CJ emphasised that it was duty of all concerned departments to guard their image and clear the issue to the extent of perception. 

He further said that whatever number of persons were apprehended, they should be dealt with in accordance with law. 

He remarked that if a good improvement was not seen in the near future, the Supreme Court could consider taking up the matter as serious violation of Human Rights, under Article 184(3) of the Constitution.