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Pak's 'missing' mostly in jail

world Updated: Dec 12, 2010 02:02 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad

There are 8,000 missing people in Pakistan, half of whom are in one way or another involved with the Balochistan crisis, according to unofficial estimates.

Most of those picked up, are in the custody of the country's intelligence agencies, with no official record available of their confinement, say observers. Amina Masood Janjua, of the Defence of Human Rights Commission, says that the reason for this high number of detainees is the unchallenged powers of the country's various secret and intelligence agencies, who work under the umbrella of national security.

However, there is some hope for the thousands of families who look for the day when their loved ones will be released.

Earlier this week, the Pakistan Supreme Court ordered the authorities to arrange a meeting between eleven persons thought to be missing from Rawalpindi's notorious Adiala Jail and their families. A three member bench of the court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry pushed the country's intelligence agencies for details of the detention of the eleven men, who had earlier been released by the court but had gone missing from the prison premises.

But despite this week's Supreme Court order, most families are not happy with the way the legal system is working to bring them justice.

For its part, the Zardari government has maintained that it was doing all it could to recover the missing persons. However, in most instances, observers say that this issue was beyond the purview of the country's civilian leadership.