Disinformation about the Missing Persons
By Sajjad Shaukat
Since the Supreme Court of Pakistan took notice of the missing persons in the country, there is much hue and cry on the issue. On March 7 this year, even the Senate unanimously passed a resolution, expressing deep concern over the issue of disappeared persons.
In this context, on June 2011, a two-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Javed Iqbal had condemned the role of NGOs in relation to the case of missing persons. He had remarked that NGOs exaggerated figures of missing persons, but failed to provide details about them. He elaborated that NGOs were just spreading sensationalism and conducting press conferences without obtaining facts, asking their representatives to provide complete details of the disappeared persons.
The observation of Justice Iqbal is also true, if we see it in case of other entities. Without know the reality, some political parties, media anchors, foreign-based and Pakistani-based human rights organisations have especially been accusing law enforcing and intelligence agencies, especially Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for the missing persons, spreading disinformation all over the country.
In this respect, it is notable that our internal elements reveal that thousands of people have been disappeared in the country, while a recent report of the United Nations reported that only 98 persons are missing in Pakistan.
It is mentionable that on February 13, 2012, the intelligence agencies produced seven men before the Supreme Court of Pakistan. In this respect, Raja Irshad the council for ISI and Military Intelligence (MI) had told the apex Court on January 30, last year that that four of the 11 persons of Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi, who were picked up by intelligence personnel in 2010 for investigation into their role in the October 2009 attacks on the GHQ and ISI Hamza Camp in Rawalpindi, had died. According to press reports, four of them have expired in the custody of agencies, but Raja Irshad pointed out that they died in Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar.
Media reports suggest that detainees were taken away from Adiala Jail by their own terrorist-masters, under the guise of intelligence persons, to FATA. After relentless efforts, they were again traced and caught from FATA, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by the secret agencies. These detainees were not convicted by Anti-Terrorist Court of Rawalpindi, but released due to lack of evidence which was essential for the court, while the witnesses and heirs of detainees were afraid to appear before the court because of threats by the terrorists. But court required evidence as its was not concerned with realtiy.
Nevertheless, the four suspected terrorists died natural deaths due to some serious diseases. At no stage, it was pointed out that they died owing to torture or poisoning as accused in the writ petition and highlighted in the media campaign. Even death certificates of the doctors clearly proved that they were not tortured or poisoned.
Quite opposite to the fabricated evidence, reality is that these militants were arrested on charges of terrorist assault as already mentioned, while suicide jackets, weapons and hand grenades were also recovered from them. In this context, on March 1 this year, advocate Raja Muhammad Irshad informed the Supreme Court bench that the 11 prisoners were also receiving funds from abroad and were involved in anti-state activities.
Since prevailing security environments in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA impose restrictions on freedom of actions therefore, it took relatively longer time to establish that sufficient evidence was not available to try these suspects under Pakistan Army Act because concocted evidence was not created to initiate legal proceedings under the Act.
Thinkers and writers always pay attention to reality, while describing factual position of any development or event. But learned advocates in most of the cases produce fake evidence in order to win the case, even then the reality of the event exists. While giving arguments in the court, no lawyer agrees with his rival, otherwise, he will lose the case.
As regards the cases of missing persons, the situation of Balochistan is of particular attention, where acts of sabotage like bomb blasts, target killings, destruction of gas pipelines, forced abductions, ethnic and sectarian violence have become every day occurrence. Everyone knows that Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and another group, Jundollah (God’s soldiers) which have been fighting for secession of the province gets logistic support from American CIA and Indian RAW. These militants kidnapped and killed many innocent people and the security personnel in the province. On a number of occasions, these insurgent groups claimed responsibility in this respect.
It is notable that on February 8, 2012, the hearing of the US Congress Committee on Foreign Affairs, chaired by Dana Rohrabacher discussed target killings and human rights violations in Balochistan, blaming Pakistan’s security agencies. He has also co-authored an article, favouring an independent Balochistan. It has exposed US support to the Baloch separatists who are responsible for the forced disappearance of people.
Besides, a number of missing persons went to Afghanistan and India as they were serving their external secret agents. Some of them were murdered by foreign secret agencies in order to implicate Pak Army and ISI. Notably, since 2001, a majority of Pakistanis also left for Afghanistan for Jehad purposes, without informing their families, while many people joined the Jahadi groups.
It is of particular attention that in the aftermath of 9/11 tragedy, more than 35,000 innocent civilians and 5,000 personnel of the security forces including several police men were killed in varous subversive acts conducted by the insurgents such as attacks on markets, shopping plazas, school children buses, places of worship etc. Moreover, ISI sub-headquarters, located in Lahore, Multan and Peshawar were also targeted by the militants besides their personnel at various places. In this regard, in the recent past, BBC, while quoting ISI DG, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha revealed, “Nobody expressed their condolences over the 78 officials of the ISI who have been killed.” Question arises that as to how justice will be provided to the concerned families of all these murdered persons.
No doubt, reality of all these incidents exists, but court needs evidence. Furthermore, suicide attackers themselves die during blasts, they also fall in the category of missing persons.
Notably, without taking cognisance of the facts some leaders of Jamat-i-Islami, particularly PML-N have always criticised Pak Army and superior agency, ISI in one way or the other. After observing the largest processions of Tehreek-e-Insaf in various places, opposition leader of the PML-N in the National Assembly, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has repeatedly accused army and ISI in backing its Chairman Imran Khan. Besides, on February 29 this year, Chaudhry Nisar Ali, while raising voice for missing persons misperceived that these intelligence agencies are not in control of government. On March 8, PML-N presented a resolution in the National Assembly, calling for formation of a parliamentary committee to take up the issue of missing persons, saying the matter had raised serious questions over the conduct of intelligence agencies in the country. In fact, either it is memogate case or any other issue, some Pakistan’s political parties disrepute country’s key security intuitions so as to increase their vote bank.
However, negative approach of our political parties, media anchors and human rights organisations can be judged from the fact that on June 15, 2011, hundreds of journalists and human rights activists from across the country had marched in Islamabad, while accusing ISI for the murder of Journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad. Some political leaders also joined their camps in Islamabad. Human rights activist Asma Jehangir who is pro-American had also filed a case in the Supreme Court of Pakistan in this connection, openly blamed this intelligence agency regarding Saleem’s assassination. Some American high officials had also expressed similar thoughts. But the report of a high-level judicial commission which was released on January 12, 2012 to probe the killing of Saleem Shahzad found no proof about ISI in this matter.
In fact, the agents of CIA-led RAW and Mosssad which have been arranging subversive acts in Pakistan to complete their sinister designs, are well-penetrated in the media, various NGOs and human rights groups which are being used for vile propaganda against Pakistan’s security forces and secret agencies in relation to the human rights violations, particularly about the disappeared persons.
Nonetheless, there remains no difference between our external enemies and internal entities which speak in the tone of anti-Pakistan elements. So, it is our misfortune that instead of showing real facts, our own media, so-called NGOs, human rights groups and some political elements spread disinformation about the missing persons, accusing Pak Army and ISI by further strengthening the hands of the US, India and Israel which want to ‘destabilise’ and ‘denuclearise’ Paksitan.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations