Supreme Court explores grim realities of enforced disappearances

Supreme Court live hearing

The Supreme Court resumed hearing the petition against enforced disappearances today (Wednesday). At the same time, a shutterdown strike is being observed in several cities of Balochistan on Wednesday against “state oppression” and “atrocities” committed in the province for the last 70 years.

Yesterday, Baloch protesters camping outside the National Press Club in Islamabad had called for a shutterdown demonstration across the country.


A three-member SC bench is hearing the case, which is being telecast live. The live streaming of today’s hearing can be accessed at mainstream news channels as well as YouTube.

“Missing persons commission failed in duties; 2,200 still missing”

Headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa, the bench comprises Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Musarrat Hilali.

The case was brought to the Supreme Court by Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan that highlighted how the unlawful practice of enf­orced disappearances continued unabated, haunting generations upon generations.

As the proceedings commenced today, Advocate Shoaib Shaheen, representing Ahsan, read out loud previous judgments issued on the matter in court. He also mentioned the Faizabad sit-in case. However, the CJP asked how the case was linked to enforced disappearances.

In today’s session, CJ Isa summoned Amina Masood Janjua to the rostrum. She is chairperson of the rights group Defence of Human Rights Pakistan (DHR) and has been affected by the enforced disappearances tragedy. Her husband has been missing since 2005. As Janjua took the stand, recounting the traumatic events, CJ Isa posed probing questions about the circumstances surrounding her husband’s vanishing.

CJ Isa sought to unravel the political landscape at the time, pinpointing the government of Pervez Musharraf. Janjua disclosed that her businessman husband went missing during Pervez Musharraf’s regime.

The courtroom inquiry escalated as Chief Justice Isa pressed for reasons behind the forced disappearance. He also questioned Janjua about her husband’s profile and any previous investigations and the results they unveiled.

Janjua revealed that her husband was declared dead by the Missing Persons Commission in 2013, while no information was provided on ‘how’ and ‘when’. As the proceedings unfolded, the court also addressed the recent case of Matiullah Jan, with CJ Isa expressing concern over the lack of action against government agencies involved in his abduction.

The court emphasised the need for governmental intervention, pointing out the urgency in such cases and the absence of accountability for those responsible.

The courtroom saga continued with discussions around the protection of individuals like Imran Riaz Khan, who claimed to possess crucial information if provided with court protection. The CJ also scrutinized the dynamics of safeguarding individuals against potential harm, highlighting the complexities surrounding such cases.

As the intense courtroom drama unfolded, Amina Masood Janjua’s testimony became a focal point, shedding light on the shadows of forced disappearances and the pressing need for accountability and justice in Pakistan.

The Supreme Court, seeking comprehensive information, mandated the inquiry commission on enforced disappearances to furnish details of all cases by the upcoming Tuesday (January 9). Additionally, the commission was instructed to provide all production orders to the Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan.

Turning attention to the government’s standpoint on production orders, the Chief Justice prompted the Attorney General to clarify the official position. The court learned that the federal government had withdrawn appeals previously filed against the orders of the Islamabad High Court (IHC). Consequently, the court dismissed these appeals on the grounds of withdrawal.

The Supreme Court also remarked that peaceful protest is everyone’s right, and that no ban should be imposed if property is not damaged.

Next hearing of the missing persons case will be held after two weeks.


Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) issued a substantial order regarding the Baloch protesters seated in Islamabad. The Court prohibited the removal of Baloch families currently staging a protest outside the National Press Club.

Taking a stand against any form of harassment towards the Baloch demonstrators, the IHC emphasised the need to ensure their safety and security.

Furthermore, the Deputy Commissioner and the Superintendent of Police Operations have been summoned to appear personally on January 5.

IHC Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani issued the directives for a hearing on the case against the harassment of Baloch protesters.

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