Where is Masood Janjua?

Editorial April 09, 2010

Since her husband Masood disappeared five years ago, Amina Janjua has become the face of the missing persons case. She co-founded the organization, Pakistan Defence of Human Rights, which investigates the disappearance of thousands of people.

In a new twist, however, Masood is assumed to be dead according to revelations printed in reports on Thursday which say that the police are investigating senior personnel in the intelligence agencies and a corps commander, whose statements belie the claim that Masood is still alive.

The former attorney general Malik Qayyum is reported to have made shocking disclosures. The police will be submitting questions for the men to respond to through the judicial branch of the armed forces. One can only hope that the truth about Janjua’s whereabouts is ascertained in a swift and judicious manner. If he is alive he should immediately be produced before a court of law.

The intelligence agencies are largely believed to be behind the enforced disappearances of 8,000 people since September 2001.

In 2007, the Supreme Court took note of the illegal practice and the chief justice has been ruthless in his questioning of the government agencies’ purported role in the disappearances. Some 200 have been released or produced before a court but there are thousands of families like Janjua’s who remain in the dark about their loved ones’ whereabouts.

A three-member judicial commission was set up early this March to look into the missing persons believed to be in the custody of security agencies. The commission must immediately be given a list of the people it is to determine the whereabouts of and then move equally fast in locating them, not to mention charging those who have illegally detained them.

The Supreme Court must also be kept in the loop and keep their pressure on the recovery of the missing persons so that travesties of justice are never reported again.