The Commission of Enquiry on Enforced Disappearances briefed the Senate Standing Committee on Interior about the missing persons. The briefing of the Commission before the Standing committee is far from satisfactory on the issue of missing persons. However, the presentation of Justice (Retd) Fazal-ur-Rehman on the matter is problematic in a sense for the Senate did not know anything from the member of the Commission about the people who are involved in the forceful abductions of the citizens of the country. We can only infer from his statements before the Standing Committee the people behind the illegal acts.

The reports on the briefing clearly show that the Commission is not empowered enough to solve the issue of missing persons that have shaken the political foundations of the country significantly. Furthermore, the point of public importance that Senator Usman Kakar of Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) raised on the figure of missing persons provided by the commission showed not only his dissatisfaction; many organisations and human rights activists think that the real numbers of people who have gone missing are not as conservative as the commission states.

Given that the civilian governments of the past had and the present one has officially recognised – as the creation of the commission itself is the most significant evidence in this regard – that some of its institutions were involved in the practices of forceful abductions need to rectify the problem. But the problem cannot be shooed off by giving a conservative figure of people who have gone missing to the public representatives. The issue of missing persons will haunt us as long as a single person is missing from his abode illegally.

Additionally, reliance on violating the rights of people by illegally detaining them in internment camps and jails is not the most effective way to counter terrorism or for that matter separatist movements. The strategy to pick people up from their homes and working places has proved counterproductive. It has given rise to resentment that in turn has weakened the federation. We have already seen the emergence of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) as a movement that seeks to address the issue of missing persons. The government’s reluctance to accept their demands may push it to adopt a more politically extreme stance.

The human rights situation in the country is far from satisfactory, and the issue of missing persons is making it much worse than one can imagine. Making the commission more empowered by removing obstacles in its way will benefit the state. It is about time to rethink our strategy of defeating militancy through forceful abductions.