The problem of missing persons is not going away, despite the efforts of the Supreme Court, and despite the formation of the Commission on Enforced Disappearances. The latest Interior Ministry report shows that the number of such persons has actually increased, and phenomenally at that, from 796 till July, to 914 in December, an increase of 118, or almost 15 percent, which indicates that the disappearances are perhaps continuing as usual. It is worth noting that the enforced disappearances, which have increased all over the country, have particularly increased in Punjab by 24 percent, and KPK by 20 percent. Unlike Sindh and Balochistan, these two provinces have not been specifically subjected to scrutiny by the Supreme Court, and while KPK is the epicentre of the war on terror, Punjab is where sectarian organizations, which form the so-called ‘Punjabi’ Taliban, are based.

It is particularly discreditable that the number of missing persons now exceeds by far the disappearances that occurred when Pervez Musharraf was President. Unfortunately, it also indicates how the law enforcing authorities are misusing the situation for their own private purposes. By parroting denial, time after time, the Pakistani authorities are protecting those law enforcers who are exploiting the situation. Ironically, it seems to be now a matter of convenience, rather than routine, for our law enforcement to follow the law.

The solution to the missing persons problem lies in a strict adherence to law, not just in the issuing of reports. There should be no persons arrested without being presented in court, so that not only can their heirs learn of their whereabouts, but they can also learn the charges they face. The government, and military under its command, should aim for a reduction in the number of missing persons, not an increase, and this can only be achieved by carefully following the Supreme Court’s directions on the subject.