The Parliamentary Committee on the National Security (PCNS) decided on Thursday to propose landslide amendments in laws governing the country’s counter-terrorism campaign to address the burning issue of enforced disappearances, especially in Balochistan.
During a meeting, the 13-member bipartisan, bicameral panel decided to forward the government two separate sets of recommendations – legislative and administrative – to sort out one of Pakistan’s most complicated human rights issues.
A participant told The Express Tribune, after the meeting, that the panel decided to toughen laws not only to bring intelligence agencies under civilian control but also to make sure that detained terrorists could not escape due to weak prosecution or lack of evidence.
On the administrative side, he said, the committee would recommend what and how provincial governments should take measures to address a widespread dissent of the state in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
The committee’s recommendations, which are likely to be finalised at a meeting on May 28, will be aimed at finding out how to trace thousands of people who had gone ‘missing’ in different parts of the country over the past few years.
The decision to amend laws to control secret and law enforcing agencies came days after the Supreme Court observed that the Frontier Constabulary (FC) was behind more than 90% of enforced disappearances in Balochistan.
The idea to split recommendations into legislative and administrative measure was taken from a similar attempt made during the era of former military ruler General (retd) Pervez Musharraf to address Balochistan’s problems.
A parliamentary panel he formed back in 2005 split itself into administrative and legislative sub-committees to seek a solution of the problems in the province where a nationalist insurgency was threatening the integrity of the country.
But before the committee could make any headway after months of deliberations, the killing of Baloch chieftain Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti in a military operation threw the province into further chaos.
“We want to pick the thread where it was left in 2006 … the idea will be to build on the recommendations were finalized then,” said one of the participants about the administrative measures.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 18th, 2012.