Enforced disappearances: Panel seeks to keep agencies on tight leash

Parliamentary Committee on National Security submits recommendations this month.

Zahid Gishkori June 19, 2012


The Parliamentary Committee on National Security is likely to submit its recommendations on the missing persons’ case to the government this month, with some commanding recommendations to “limit” the intelligence agencies’ role in picking up innocent citizens.

The parliamentary panel’s Chairperson Senator Raza Rabbani – in consultation with other members of the committee – has prepared comprehensive recommendations to resolve the issue of enforced disappearances in the country.

Though the recommendations have yet not been made public by the bicameral panel but The Express Tribune, during its background meetings with members of the panel, has learnt about some key recommendations proposed.

According to these recommendations, parliament will look into the proposed suggestions to define the Inter-Services Intelligence’s (ISI) role in the saga of these alleged disappearances. The intelligence operators, under the new recommendations, would not be able to pick any person without approval of the local courts.

“The gist of the recommendations is to enact area specific laws to resolve the burning issue,” said a member of the panel. He, however, added that we are still working on these recommendations.

Under these newly-drafted recommendations, special courts will be established in the country which will be empowered to investigate the sweeping powers possessed by intelligence agencies.

These courts will also ensure the safety of suspects with special emphasis on human rights. These courts will be bound to provide speedy justice to the suspects.

If an agency picks up a suspect, it will be obligatory for it to inform the city police officer/station within 24 hours.

Then the agency would have to file the case before the special court for a fair trial. This court will also provide a fair time to the suspect for his/her defence.

The members of the committee also suggested that the role of the provinces and the centre should not have any ambiguity. The newly-drafted recommendations will set new rules for the provincial authorities to handle the issue accordingly.

Last week meetings of the committee were postponed due to the death of Raza Rabbani’s father. Rabbani – who reached Islamabad on Monday – did not comment on the panel’s recommendations as he was not sure about its next meeting.

Anti Terrorism Act

Meanwhile, former interior minister Aftab Sherpao, who is also a member of the committee, said that the PCNS also wanted to revise the Anti Terrorism Act to curb the menace of terrorism, setting new laws to deal with terrorists.

The Act was tabled in the National Assembly after withdrawing it from the Senate. The PCNS will also look into this Act which is a long-awaited proposed law pending with parliament, he told The Express Tribune.

“I hope this bill will bring a major change in the existing laws dealing with terror in the country.”

Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2012.


Abdul Qayyum Bhatti | 9 years ago | Reply

The recommendations should be finalized and passed as soon as possible because current national assembly can last almost for 6 month from now. If the law is not passed by the current assembly, it will be delayed by one year, at least (6-8 months of PPP regime, 3 months interim setup, general election followed new assembly and possible difficulties to get passed the law from National Assembly and Senate). The delay will cost to increase the plight of the missing persons and their relatives. It is necessary to get passed this law in near future to end this illegal detentions and killings.

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