LAHORE: Amnesty International urged Pakistan to resolve hundreds of cases of enforced disappearances.

AI termed that no one has ever been held accountable for an enforced disappearance in Pakistan.

It is pertinent to mention here that UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has more than 700 pending cases from Pakistan.

On the other hand, Pakistan’s State Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances has received reports of hundreds more, from across the country.

In a press release issued, Amnesty International said people are wrenched away from their loved ones by state officials or others acting on their behalf.

“They deny the person is in their custody or refuse to say where they are. Families are plunged into a state of anguish, trying to keep the flame of hope alive while fearing the worst,” Amnesty International stated.

“They may be in this limbo for years. The disappeared are at risk of torture and even death. If they are released, the physical and psychological scars endure. If they are killed, the family never recovers from their loss”, it reads.

AI termed disappearances as a ‘tool of terror’ that strikes not just individuals or families, but entire societies.

Amnesty International welcomes Pakistan’s acceptance of recommendations to make enforced disappearance a criminal offence but is disappointed by Pakistan’s failure to accept several recommendations including from states with their own traumatic history of disappearances to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

Victims include bloggers, journalists, students, peace activists and other human rights defenders whose work promote the same values as this Council and are crucial to a free and just society.

“These crimes take place against the backdrop of a broader assault on civil society and freedom of expression is criminalized online. Human rights defenders are smeared and threatened and journalists are attacked. Civil society organizations are subject to greater restrictions, and international NGOs,” it reads.

Amnesty International is pleased to note that Pakistan has accepted recommendations to protect journalists and freedom of expression.

However, is concerned that the government did not accept recommendations to bring the perpetrators of such threats, attacks and abductions to justice.3As an elected member of this Council, Pakistan must uphold the highest human rights standards –to not just acknowledge violations, but take concrete steps to end impunity for them.

The low-profile Pakistani peace activist Raza Khan went missing on 2nd December 2017 after he arranged an interactive session on extremism and at ‘Lowkey Lokai’ a public space located Al Qadeer Heights, Main Boulevard, Gulberg, Lahore. The disappearance of Raza Khan received massive outcry from civil society and international bodies.