Missing in muddy waters

Justice Iqbal asserted that the missing were handed over to the Americans in exchange for money


Editorial April 18, 2018

Nobody knows for certain who is behind the thousands of persons that have gone missing over decades and various theories have been advanced, invariably without any substantiation. Now there is another twist to the story. It has been alleged by Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal, who is chairman of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), during a briefing to the National Assembly Standing Committee on Human rights that as many as 4,000 Pakistanis have been handed over to foreign countries.

Further, most of that 4,000 were sent to the US during the regime of General (retd) Pervez Musharraf. He also alleged that former interior minister Aftab Sherpao was in some way party to what was described as a ‘secret handover’. Adding to this surprising revelation Justice Iqbal asserted that the missing were handed over to the Americans in exchange for money. There is no provision in the law of the land for such extraditions and that no one, including parliament, had ever questioned the roles played by Musharraf and Sherpao in what he termed a “dark episode.”

At the time of writing there does not appear to be any response to these allegations from the American side, nor is there anything offered to substantiate what Justice Iqbal has said on the record. There are no details, no names and certainly no documentation of any description which makes it difficult to accept these statements at face value. It is certainly true that these matters bear investigation, particularly the allegation that people were traded for money and ‘disappeared’ into the US presumably never to reappear. In yet another layer of mystery Justice Iqbal said that “some foreign agencies” were also involved in forced disappearances in a false-flag operation to discredit our own secret agencies, including the Inter-Services Intelligence and the Military Intelligence.

Conspiracy theories are part of the warp and weft of life in Pakistan, but rarely seriously proposed by a person heading a vital national agency. Unless there is some — any — verification of these statements it will have done no good for Pakistan’s credibility.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th, 2018.

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