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EditorialPrime minister's statement on missing persons

Prime minister’s statement on missing persons

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s assurance to the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that forced disappearances are intolerable is a welcome statement, but the need of the hour is to recover the missing persons. The protection of every subject is the state’s duty, but the country has been in a vicious cycle of the forced disappearance of citizens. IHC Chief Justice Athar Minhalla addressed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in the courtroom, reminding him that disappearance is tantamount to violating the constitution and that it is his responsibility to end this cycle. In the case of enforced disappearance, the prime minister was summoned to the court to know about the progress of the case. During the proceedings, the prime minister admitted that the agencies are not under him, which raised eyebrows in the court. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, however, made an assurance to the court without mincing any words that the issue of missing persons is very painful for him and personally he will leave no stone unturned to fulfil his responsibility. To be clear, the foremost duty of the prime minister is to find the whereabouts of the missing persons. It is really painful to see the suffering of the families of the missing people who have been on the roads, mostly in front of the courts, seeking the release of their family members. The country has seen a bloodbath in the last two decades after the war on terrorism, in which several local facilitators stood along with the terrorists and inflicted a reign of terror. The army with other security agencies fought hard battle inland and sacrificed lives. The enforced disappearance of the people was the collateral toll of the war. The issue, however, has never died in the past two decades, although the courts have repeatedly ordered the recovery of missing persons and to address the issue on a permanent basis.

The government also formed a commission for the recovery of missing persons which also proved to be totally a waste of time. Successive political governments since 2008 have also not been able to show any remarkable performance so far due to the sensitivity of the issue. Recently, the Federal Cabinet Committee under Federal Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah met with the families of the missing persons in Quetta. Over the years, there have been several such meetings and court hearings without any concrete results. The issue must reach its logical conclusion.

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