Thousands of Pakistanis missing: Is anyone listening?

Published in Express Tribune Blogs

The families of missing persons have been unsuccessfully campaigning to have their loved ones return.

The families of missing persons have been unsuccessfully campaigning to have their loved ones return.

As I write this blog, I sit in my living room miles away from Pakistan. I miss my loved ones; my parents, my siblings and acquaintances a lot.

But thank God, despite being away from them, I am in constant touch with them and they know about my life and the freedom I have.

But as I write all this, I think of those unfortunate people whose loved ones are lost – or rather haver been snatched away. I thank God and feel blessed.

Since the time I wrote my last piece on missing persons, which was nearly three months ago,  I have seen that no progress has been made on the issue. Thegovernment has been incompetent in following the orders of the Supreme Court, whereas the SC has been indecisive in making the government follow its orders. The country, therefore, hangs in a strange system of democracy and justice. Between this two-sliced fudged sandwich of democracy and justice are the ingredients of missing persons. Who is cooking this savory-for-some and bitter-for-many sandwich?

Someone with the authority to rebuff the orders of the court and certainly has the authority to violate the constitution of Pakistan. Eleven people were allegedly picked up by intelligence agencies from the Adiala jail, despite their acquittal by a court in a terrorism case. Dawn reported that the federal government contacted all departments including secret agencies, but they declined their possession. This leads to a simple query: who is holding them? Who is lying?

A number of times, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has submitted its report on the issue of missing persons to the Supreme Court, but it has yielded no results. In the words of Amina Masood Janjua at a rally held in the support of missing persons on November 2,

“Certainly, I stand at the same place where I stood five years ago in search of my husband. It seems to me that we are still living in a dictatorial era. Democracy and independent courts are delivering us the same thing: injustice.”

In my opinion, the judiciary and the so-called democratic government can be compared to George Orwell’s Ministry of Love. It seems that love for the nationally-powerful Big Brother is holding those two departments from easing the pain of thousands.

Besides, in my considered opinion, I daresay that the amount of support by civil society for the cause of missing persons has increased substantially – though not adequately. From the south to the north of the country, Amina Masood Janjua has commanded good support from civil society. In spite of this fact, 11 abducted prisoners were relocated to secret locations in broad day light. If civil society were to stand against such injustice more passionately, we could address it more effectively.

In October 2009, the government amended the country’s anti-terrorism laws through a presidential ordinance to further curtail the legal rights of terrorism suspects. Under the ordinance, suspects can be placed in ‘preventive detention’ for a period of 90 days, without the benefit of judicial review or the right to bail. What does the government have to say about people held for 91 days-or seven years, for that matter?

Gone were the days when the same reinstated judges alarmed the establishment and a military dictator and thence earned a pretty penny. More hope, more sweating and more patience is demanded of the families of missing persons and in Pakistanis at large. How much time is too much time? Chief Justice of Pakistan, I ask you again: are you listening?

They Need Your Support Today

Missing Persons Protest

Missing Persons Protest

A friend asked me: Hum itney na-shukrey kyun hain?

Why are we so unthankful?

At first, I thought it was a usual comment by him we often use in daily life. But soon I analyzed he was talking about “Pakistan” particularly. I retorted that we really are unthankful — an unthakful nation. Perhaps he daresaid, while making this comment, that I’m always cynical with my thoughts; that I’m critical and pessimistic. I wonder where have I ever been pessimistic. Being critical doesn’t necessarily imply that a person is pessimistic too.

Most of the time I’m vocal about the role of our army and politicians. While I criticize our Pakistan army — mind it that I don’t criticize the whole institution with more than 600,000 servicemen, but only the wrong policy makers — people usually think that I’m committing a blasphemy as I’m speaking against the sacred Pakistani institution which is meant to guard our nation. I always think and ask is the army above criticism? How many times this institution has erred and repeat it still; hence, speaking against it is wrong?

It pulls me back to the time of Jinnah. Jinnah was selected for the Central Legislative Council from Calcutta as a Muslim representative in 1910. Lord Minto supported Jinnah. Viceroy Minto’s pious hopes were soon shattered. Jinnah clashed with the viceroy the very first time when he rose to speak in the council, addressing him to a resolution that called for an immediate end to the export of indentured India labors to South Africa. Jinnah spoke out saying: “It is a most painful question — a question which has roused the feelings of all classes in the country to the highest pitch of indignation and horror at the harsh and cruel treatment that is meted out to the Indians in South Africa”. Minto reprimanded him for using the words “cruel treatment”. Jinnah spoke out saying: “It is a most painful question — a question which has roused the feelings of all classes in the country to the highest pitch of indignation and horror at the harsh and cruel treatment that is meted out to the Indians in South Africa”. Minto reprimanded him for using the words “cruel treatment”. Minto deemed Jinnah’s statement “too harsh to be used for a friendly part of the British Empire” within his council chambers. My Lord, Jinnah responded, “I should feel much inclined to use much stronger language. But I am fully aware of the constitution in the Council, and I do not wish to trespass for one single moment. But I do say that the treatment meted out to Indians is the harshest and the feeling in this country is unanimous.”

Jinnah was the only men who stood for such an act of unjust against the people of his country. By then, not even Gandhi raised this objection or anyone else from the Congress. Because Jinnah always stood for the human rights too, and he would never care if he’s speaking against the friendly British Empire or his Congressmen. Is speaking against the cruel policies of army/intelligence on the missing persons — and as I recall the death of one of my personal friend’s mother in Bajaur air strike and 100’s of innocent people like her — an amoral thing, I ask? Is speaking against the role of US in many things — for example the drone attacks that kill innocents daily — a wrong thing, I ask? Any missing person has a right to be prosecuted in the Pakistani courts — morally and constitutionally. But they just remain ‘missing’, let alone their prosecution. Simultaneously, I’m accused of being a traitor as I stand firm besides the families of those who suffer from the hands of some amoral uniformed and non-uniformed people.

Now with the latest update on the efforts of the families of missing persons: aggrieved families of missing persons few days back launched a long march from Faisalabad for the safe recovery of their dear ones with solemn pledge to enter Islamabad with five million registered followers for staging a sit-in.

According to the sources, only the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) is supporting this long march. Why just PTI, why not the MQM, PPP, PML-N, PML-Q, ANP, JUI etc. etc.? I stress on the significance of the cause of “Missing Persons” and urge every political party’s activist to support this cause and participate in the long march. Raise your voice. Please, this doesn’t have anything to do with your political party’s affiliation. Anyone with a flesh heart is morally obliged to support this cause — before it gets too late. Support the 100’s of families of missing persons (788 cases registered with “Defence Human Rights Pakistan” alone, whereas the estimate according to International Human Rights group is not less than 10,000) by standing against the unjust and amoral acts of those who are accountable for adding miseries to the 100’s of families, simultaneously adding the miseries to already troubled and miserable Pakistan. It reminds me of the words of Martin Niemoller — a leader of one of the German group opposing Hitler and Nazis.

First they (Nazi) came for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then… they came for me… And by that time there was no one left to speak up.

Dishonest Pakistan

On 8th June 2009 I wrote: Democracy, Dictatorship, Communism, Socialism, Monarchy, Anarchy etc. – all are names of different Political and Economic systems. All can be good and at the same time all can not be good. The imperative system is ‘Justice’ what everyone needs.

In short, there’s nothing like “A good dictatorship” or “A poor democracy” or vice versa. What all citizens want is a good system – a good law and order – a good sovereignty of country where government is liable to protect the rights of its citizens which no one ever does.

When anyone talks about Musharraf and favors Musharraf, when anyone talks about MQM and favors MQM, when anyone talks about Nawaz Sharif and favors him, when anyone talks about Jeye Bhutto and favors PPP – it always make me feel sad that how knavishly we keep on ignoring the wickedness of the favored leaders. I personally know a host of Pakistanis who’re victim of our poor leaders including MQM, Musharraf, PML-N, PPP etc. When was the dignity of Musharraf when he sold a horde of Pakistanis to US for $20,000 each for rendition purpose? These people are now known as ‘Missing Person’.

I sent Eid Greetings to Amina Masood Janjua last time on Eid and her response was: No Eid without my husband; no Eid until we don’t recover all Missing Persons. I ask the Ghairat Brigade of Pakistan, where is the dignity of ours when our favorite leaders were selling our innocent Pakistanis for dollars and none of the ethnic and national political party raised its voice.

To me, one wrong deed overcomes thousand right deeds. This is how it’s.

MQM did right for the people of Karachi, PML-N worked a lot in Punjab – but we snub the fact the there are so many victims suffered and suffering from MQM, PPP, PML-N etc. political parties acts. I’m not against a person, but I feel that I should, however, raise the voice and bring up the problems against the often bad actions and transgressions by our political parties.

My Pakistan starts from the shores of Arabian sea and ends at Himalayan Range – and till that range I see, by and large, we’re dishonest to ourselves. People talking about Musharraf breaching the constitution, and the sayers breach the traffic laws too; people talking about corruption by PPP while a horde of the sayers from awaam are morally corrupted too; people talk about MQM’s extortion while myriads of plaintiffs often don’t leave a single chance to bully the people.

For many of us, by and large, Pakistan is limited to their city or province. They don’t care about what’s happening in the other parts of Pakistan. We often miss to address the dark side of our leaders and portray their bright side just to blot out their hypocrisies. It happens in the case of MQM too, it happens with Nawaz Sharif too, it happens in the case of Musharraf too, it happens with ruling PPP too.

A guy I know personally whose mom died during an air-strike in Bajaur. Who carried out the air-strike? Musharraf. I again ask the Ghairat Brigade: who’s responsible for it? We, ourselves, absolutely. We give our leaders the license to do whatever they want. MQM, PML-N, PPP – all can carry substantial rallies when it comes to their ‘seat’, no one would carry a single substantial rally against such atrocities.

This is a botched up political system of Pakistan, and unfortunately we preserve this political system while keeping the status quo maintain instead of raising our voice in rallies as ardently as we do in the case of BB’s barsii or Youm-e-Tasees and so on. Is it too much that I’m asking, or rather this nation is asking?

This country was never made on the name of Democracy. Even Liaquat Ali Khan was confused whether to adopt Democracy or Communism during his early days of governance. This country, if anything, was made on the name of “Justice”, that we’d give equal rights to everyone, we’d do justice with everyone, and that Army would never interfere in politics – Quaid-e-Azam said.

So far, I admire COAS Kayani to a commensurate extent that he’s wiser than Musharraf seeing as how he has no lust of power at least, and that today political leader have steered country to the dark, but he had never shown his thoughts and intents, even for a moment, to impose any Martial Law. During Long March, he had all this opportunity to impose the Martial Law, but he never did, even though the whole country was jolted so much during those days. Instead he met with political leadership and convinced them to show some mercy on the country and find a quick way to get out of this national turmoil.

People talk about ‘education’ every instance when the topic ‘Pakistan’ is under debate. Only ‘education’ isn’t a solution to solve all the problems. I believe in “Character Education” more than ‘education’ itself. Educated ones do breach the traffic rules, do violate constitution of Pakistan, do breach civil rules – but a person with “Character Education” wouldn’t do that.

We’re always up to market the manifesto of our affiliated political parties – but why don’t we market the simple and dignified version of Jinnah and Iqbal, I ask??

PS: I’ve portrayed the role of Government and Awaam in the progression and regression of Pakistan. I majorly impute Awaam for the current situation of Pakistan; however, this doesn’t mean we should never voice our protest against the government. We can, always!

Tribute to Amina Masood Janjua

Missing Person & Awaited Justice

Missing Persons & Awaited Justice

Whenever her name comes in my mind, whenever I thought of Missing Persons, tears streamed down my eyes. Amina Masood Janjua — wife of one missing person Masood Ahmed Janjua and Chairperson Defence of Human Rights Pakistan — is struggling for the missing persons in Pakistan. She has endlessly and doggedly strived hard for the Missing Persons of Pakistan who were nabbed by Pakistani Intelligence Agencies in collaboration of United States of America — our best ally.

The case of Missing Persons was petitioned in Supreme Court of Pakistan in veteran president General Musharraf’s era and justice was highly foreseen, but during that time Musharraf took the phenomenally outstanding performance of SC as his insult — as the decisions of SC were going against the idiotic moves of Musharraf’s government — so he imposed emergency in Pakistan and purged the Chief Justice of Pakistan and put him under house arrest. The hope of getting justice was vanished.

Now since the time Judiciary has been restored back and Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry is reinstated, the case on Missing Persons wasn’t heard in SC for long, or rather SC didn’t take any serious notice, until last month a protest outside the Supreme Court led by Amina Masood Janjua against inaction on the issue of Missing Persons drew the ire of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry who then ordered the interior secretary to submit a report about the missing persons.

Amina Masood Janjua’s entrance in the red zone, and camping in front of the Supreme Court, made Chief Justice of Pakistan take the notice of the protest; hence, the longstanding case of Missing Persons was reopened again.

Interior Ministry says that it’s doing hectic efforts to trace the Missing Persons and 241 people had been traced while 175 are still untraced. Where are the untraced ones isn’t an inconspicuous and covert thing. Veteran president General Pervez Musharraf sold them to CIA. In the words of one of my American friend Prudence: YES! I have heard of the innocent Pakistani people nabbed by the CIA. It is my understanding that your President Musharraf took advantage of the widespread paranoia after 9/11 and got rid of most of his political “enemies” by literally selling them for around $20,000 each to the CIA for rendition purposes.

People from the US — the state government that’s committing heinous crimes — are ready to accept the fundamental reality and truth, but ineptly many of the Pakistani people — the victim nation of such atrocities — are even now not having sufficient strength to realize and acknowledge some of the evilness of the so-called best leaders.

On 23rd November 2009, all the cases of the “Missing Loved Ones” were fixed for hearing in CJP’s Court room number 1.

On the eve of recent Eid-ul-Azha 2009, 5 Missing Persons have returned back home safely after Supreme Court’s interference.

It’s yet sad that none of the prominent political party beefed up the cause of Amina Masood Janjua — which is after all a cause of our country Pakistan. The self-righteous and double-tongued political leaders and their respective parties are always up for power, but often not for powerless people to emancipate them.

The edgy yet high-mettled activist Amina Masood Janjua’s efforts will never run out InshaAllah. May Allah help her and all of us in this cause. Ameen.

It’s again a high time for us to at least understand and decry the bad side of our shameful leaders and advocate the cause of Amina — a cause to help her get the justice to the Missing Persons and their families — and a cause to render Pakistan the services it has always sought for. I ask judiciary an additional time, are you listening?