The head of the commission on missing persons, Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal while briefing National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Human Rights was ill prepared. His comments were grotesque. His naivety about the subject, which he is heading, is appalling. His comments need a special mention when he said that some foreign agencies illegally apprehend people and pin the blame on Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI). Mr Javed certainly does not want to antagonise some institutions when he tried to rely on appeasement while briefing the NA committee that 70 % of the missing persons are found to be pro-military. If so is the case, where are the testimonies of those gone missing given in favour of the military? Are all the missing dissenters and activists figments of people’s imaginations? Mr Javed’s briefing to the parliamentarians was a disgrace not only to the parliamentarians but also to his office.

Being a retired judge of the superior judiciary, he should not have taken the support of ifs and buts to beat around the bush. There are growing voices that hold state institutions for forceful abductions of people. The issue of forceful disappearances is not limited to one particular province only. The problem is a widespread one. It needs proper investigation. Instead of just dismissing the numbers of missing Balochs as inflated, the case of missing persons demands a serious inquiry. Even the number of missing persons he relies on, i.e., 4000 individuals were taken from the book of former dictator Pervaiz Musharaf.

His attack on the inefficiency of parliament over the matter of missing persons, his criticism of MQM’s approach on its missing workers and his claims of being an unbiased NAB chairman will not solve the issue at hands. While he did talk about the missing persons, he failed to inform the committee on how many people are missing from Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The only valuable contribution that he made while briefing the committee was reiterating the notion of natural justice that a terrorist’s family should not be labelled a terrorist and that for the welfare of such a family, responsibility rests with the state.

In a nutshell, he was reluctant to admit that state is violating the rights of the people. He conveniently ignores the implication of country’s security apparatus in picking up journalists, activists, dissenters and critics of state policies. Mr Javed Iqbal is clearly not living up to the expectations. Considering that he is busy leading the NAB as it is, it is advisable that the leadership of the CIED be taken from him and should be given to someone who is actually invested in the matter of missing persons.