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PAKISTAN – Former president denies involvement in involuntary disappearances

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hrcp.gifThe Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), FORUM-ASIA member, condemned the former president's speech denying the involvement of the state in involuntary disappearances. Here is their press release, issued on 28 April 2009.
hrcp.gifThe Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP),
FORUM-ASIA member, condemned the former president's speech denying the
involvement of the state in involuntary disappearances. Below is their
press release, issued on 28 April 2009.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has rejected
as "absolutely untenable" the claim made by former president Pervez
Musharraf that most of the "disappeared" persons had gone missing
on their own.

In a statement issued
on Tuesday, 28 April, following the former president's recent interview with
Al-Jazeera TV, in which he denied the role of state agencies in
"enforced disappearances" and claimed the missing persons had
voluntarily disappeared to join jihad, the commission said: "That loss of
power causes dementia and other disorders is amply demonstrated by General
Musharraf's recent interview and denial of state agencies' well
documented role in the illegal practice of enforced disappearance.

While some
individuals may have gone away on their own, the statement that all victims of
enforced disappearance had gone missing voluntarily to join the jihad without
informing their families is absolutely untenable. It contradicts undeniable
evidence and numerous accounts of those who have regained freedom after being
missing for various periods.

It is ironic that the
former president should deny the role of state agencies during his rule, which
was acknowledged by the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights in February 2007, when
it urged the government to present all 'missing' persons before
courts and give them an opportunity to defend themselves. The committee had
observed that the response received from the government had been
'inadequate and too little' and it had taken 'too much
time'. It had said it was not sufficient for the government to say that a
missing person was wanted in a case. 'The civilised world no longer buys
such versions. Whatever be the charges, they should be properly probed and
documented and a legal course of action should be resorted to,' the
committee had said.

It was
during the Musharraf regime that the Supreme Court expressed dismay at the lack
of government's cooperation in the missing persons case. If his
government had nothing to hide, why did he refer to the Supreme Court's
investigation into the matter as 'constant interference in executive
functions' on 3 November 2007, proclamation of emergency? What of the
scores of people released, 'traced' or
produced in court by state agencies? Did that not happen either?
One would have
ignored Musharraf's fulminations as being undeserving of a response but
for the possibility of his plans to again assume leadership of the enemies of
democracy and basic freedoms.

The government must depart from the previous regime's ways
by coming clean on the illegal practice and set the record straight and
facilitate the recovery and release of all the missing Pakistanis wherever they
may be".