ISLAMABAD - Former military ruler General (retd) Pervez Musharraf secretly handed over as many as 4,000 Pakistanis to foreign countries, mainly to the United States. This was revealed by head of the commission on missing persons on Monday.

In a briefing to the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Human Rights, headed by Zahra Daud Fatima, Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal said that former interior minister Aftab Ahmad Sherpao was also part of the “secret handover”.

Iqbal, who is also chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), further said the Musharraf regime extradited those Pakistanis in exchange of US dollars. He asserted that there was no provision in the country’s law for such extraditions. No one including the Parliament ever questioned the role of Musharraf and Sherpao in this dark episode, Justice Iqbal regretted. He said Musharraf’s illegal and unlawful action must have been investigated. “As per the law and the Constitution, how could someone secretly hand over the Pakistani nationals to any other country?” he questioned.

Speaking on the missing persons’ case, he said Iqbal some foreign agencies illegally apprehend people and pin the blame on Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI).

Iqbal said that 70 per cent of the missing persons are found to be ‘pro-military’.

He said that often the kidnapped refrain from sharing details of the incident out of fear. A terrorist’s family should not be labelled a terrorist, he argued, adding that “with the state rests the responsibility of the family of the missing persons.” Justice Iqbal also claimed that the figures of missing persons in Balochistan were often exaggerated. “There have been several militant groups present in the province and many ‘missing persons’ have gone along with them,” he said. Former CM Balochistan Aslam Raisani and Nasrullah Baloch had been tasked to provide with the list but to no avail, the NAB chief complained.

He said the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) itself has no interest in their missing persons. Despite being in the government, and Ishrat-ul-Ibad’s appointment as the Sindh governor, the party lacked the sincerity, seriousness and interest of recovering their own missing workers, he added.

MQM-P workers have been missing for the last 20 years, but former governor Ibad distributed a plot and a job to the family of a missing worker and closed the case, the NAB chief lamented. According to the NAB chairman, there are 14 cases of missing persons belonging to the party in the commission, at present and the number of missing workers is crossing a dangerous number.

The UN working group has also expressed serious concerns regarding the issue. The commission has 29 cases of MQM’s missing workers under review, which are from 1992 to 1995.

The former justice also said the commission has received 4929 missing people’s cases. The commissions solved 3219 cases from March 2011 to February 2018, he added. Presently, 1710 cases of the missing persons are under investigation. In the past two years, the commission also received 368 cases from the working group of the United Nation, most of which belong to Sindh, Iqbal added. “68 persons who had gone missing in August 2016 who were either imprisoned or had returned to homes were followed,” he said.

Iqbal further added that out of 368 missing person cases, 309 had solved. 723 cases of the missing persons cases were registered against Pakistan in a meeting held on May 2017 in Geneva of UN’s working group, out of which 505 have been solved. However, 218 cases are pending with the Commission, out of which are 14 cases of the Afghans who went missing in Pakistan from 1982-1986.

Strongly defending the ban on the international NGOs, Justice Iqbal said if he had any authority he would have never allowed such foreign organisations to operate in Pakistan. He claimed that most of the international NGOs under the garb of welfare scheme worked on the forging agencies’ agenda. He cited the example of Dr Shakil Afridi that how under the garb of vaccination drive he was working for the CIA.