ISLAMABAD - The Federal Task Force (FTA) on Missing Persons here on Monday in its maiden meeting constituted a sub-committee headed by additional secretary-I of the Ministry of Interior to indicate future course of action and to make an action plan on the sensitive issue of enforced disappearances.

The federal government on July 24 had constituted the Federal Task Force (FTA) on Missing Persons with the mandate to recommend national policy on missing persons, monitor the progress in such cases and coordinate efforts of all stakeholders working on the subject.

An official statement issued by the Ministry of Interior says that the task force held an exhaustive meeting on the ministry premises and deliberated upon the different legal, humanitarian and socio-political aspects of the issue.

Secretary Interior Qamar Zaman Chaudhry chaired the meeting while Secretary Defence was also present there besides senior officers of intelligence and law enforcement agencies at federal and provincial levels.

The sub-committee will be headed by Additional Secretary-I and is comprised the senior officers from Attorney General’s office, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Law, ISI and also the registrar of the Commission on Enforced Disappearances. The sub-committee would finalize its recommendations in four days.

The other issues discussed in the meeting include strengthening of laws; illegal confinements, sectarianism and extension of the outreach to the provincial governments. Various proceedings in the Supreme Court on the issue of missing persons were also came under discussion in the meeting. Home secretaries as well as additional inspector generals (IGs) of special branch police of four provinces, additional attorney general, member Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, additional chief secretary FATA, chief commissioner ICT, joint secretaries of Ministry of Defence as well as Ministry of Law, IG of prisons Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and representatives of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intelligence (MI) as well as Military Operations Directorate are members of the FTF.

The issue of missing persons came to light in 2006 when the Supreme Court of Pakistan took suo motu action in the case of the missing persons including Masood Janjua and others. The number of cases in Supreme Court thereby increased and in 2010, then federal government had constituted a Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances headed by a former judge of Supreme Court that submitted its report on December 31, 2010.

Under the directions of the apex court, such second commission was constituted in March, 2011 and is headed by a former senior judge of the Supreme Court Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal.

The Supreme Court in its July 23, 2013 hearing of the case had directed the newly elected PML-N led federal government to explain its policy on “Missing Persons” and the same should be furnished to the court in the shortest possible time. In the last hearing, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry while expressing his dissatisfaction over the constitution of FTF observed that establishment of such task force was not enough, as the government should have evolved an effective strategy for ending the enforced disappearances.