This country truly is quite diverse. It even has a variety of missing persons. When the Supreme Court (SC) is hearing multiple cases on a daily basis, and various orders and remarks pertaining to the several proceedings are reported at once, it all can get very confusing. The case of 35 missing persons making headlines nowadays is about the missing persons of Malakand Internment Centre. These detainees were allegedly apprehended for their connections with religious terrorist organizations such as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). So far, out of the 14 produced in the court today, families and relatives have identified only six detainees. The court has certainly not aborted its pursuit of the remaining men, and has ordered the government to ensure implementation of court’s orders.

Then, there is the case of the Adiala jail missing persons. Eleven individuals were picked up by the intelligence agencies from outside Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi, after being acquitted by the court. Military officials claim that the 11 suspects were involved in planning terror attempts on the military personnel and installations, including the suicide attack that targeted an ISI bus in November 2007. Four of them had died during the custody, and the remaining seven were presented before the court in May earlier this year. They have been tried under the Army Act 1952, and are currently being held in internment centres in KPK.

The contempt notice issued to IG FC, Major-General Ijaz Shahid, over non-appearance despite being repeatedly summoned by the court is related to the case of missing persons of Balochistan. The exact number of the missing individuals with regards to this particular has not yet been ascertained. The figure varies from under a hundred to thousands. Despite being under the spotlight of media and special attention of the judiciary, no noteworthy progress has been made on this front. Activists of the Voice of Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) and the families of the missing travelled 750 kilometers on foot over a span of 26 days. The march started from Quetta’s press club on 27th October and ended at Karachi Press Club (KPC). But, the deadlock remains.

It is not a question of the innocence or guilt of the missing persons, but that of the enforcement of the rule of law. It is imperative that the due process of the law is followed at all costs, and the concerned agencies realize that they cannot act on their discretion in such matters. If the problem lies in the weakness of existing laws, which enable guilty individuals to walk scot-free, then the federal government must make necessary amendments so the need to deviate to such tactics doesn’t arise. It is hoped that this issue is collectively resolved before it is too late.