August 22nd, 2020

                                         By: Shaukat Korai


Hafiz Fazal Abbas, who “disappeared” two days before Eid-ul-Azha, has returned home after successful negotiations between the representatives of the Joint Action Committee for Shia missing persons and the representatives of the government and security agencies.

Hafiz Fazal Abbas was detained from the Jaffar Tayyar Housing society in Karachi. On the 16th of August, a sit-in was organized by the JAC for Shia missing persons outside the governor’s house in Karachi to demand Fazal’s release. Following the sit-in representatives of the federal government and other related agencies met with the members of the JAC and assured them of Abbas’s release. The sit-in was later called off.

Sayed Alambardar Ali Rizvi, an active member of the JAC, re-asserted the effectiveness of sit-ins while talking to voicePkdotnet. According to Rizvi, 22 Shia missing persons were released as a result of the sit-in outside the residence of Arif Alvi and now Fazal too has returned as a consequence of the sit-in outside the governor’s house.

“We have observed that when we stage sit-ins, people come home. After a long and tiring struggle, we were able to get many of our brothers back home, but 33 Shias from all over Pakistan are still missing. Out of these 33, 15 are from Karachi,” he laments.

People have gone missing from almost all areas of Karachi. Some of these people include Aftab Ali Naqvi, Syed Qamar Abbas Rizvi, Ibad ul Hassan Zaidi, Azhar Hussain Rizvi and Ali Haider Rizvi.

According to their family members, these people had been taken into custody from their homes. The police told the family members that they will be returned home after a few hours of questioning. But this questioning has been ongoing for years. Many of these people were abducted in 2017.

The daughter of Sayed Aftab Ali Naqvi told, “On the 25th of February 2017, several rangers personnel forcefully entered our house and took my father away. They told us that he’ll be released shortly after a brief investigation. It’s been 4 years now. We don’t know where he is, how he is, if he is eating or not, how his health is. I don’t know what kind of investigation takes four years to complete.”

“On the 6th of July 2017, our son was sitting outside the house when rangers’ personnel suddenly picked him up. The personnel even locked us inside the house”, says the father of Ibad ul Hassan Zaidi, a young man abducted from the Gulbahar Residential society four years ago.

“My own son, Syed Ali Haider Rizvi, was abducted almost five years ago. He was only 18 at the time. So far, I have not been told about why he was picked up and or if any charges were brought against him. I don’t even know if he is alive or not,” says Alambardar.

The wife of Syed Qamar Abbas Rizvi, another Shia missing person, tells a similar story.“Our house was raided by the Sindh Rangers in February 2017 at 4 am. The personnel told me that Qamar was not being arrested and that they were only taking him downstairs for a discussion.”

The families of missing people say that they are now exhausted and that if their loved ones have committed a crime, then they should be presented in court. The families called out the state institutions for their callousness and asked how can anyone survive without knowing for years where their husbands, fathers, and brothers are.

“My grandmother died while my father was missing. They did not even allow my father to visit his dead mother,” says Sayed Aftab Ali Naqvi’s daughter. On the 20th of August, Thursday, the Interior Minister of Sindh and IG Sindh Mushtaq Ahmad appeared in person in front of the Sindh High Court and presented a detailed report on the matter of Shia missing persons. According to the report, 4,214 people have gone missing since 2011 out of which 3,609 people have been recovered while the remaining 605 remain unaccounted for.

“In most of these cases, the family members point fingers at the intelligence agencies. All over the world intelligence agencies are kept in check by parliamentary bodies. Even the U.S and the U.K have reigned in their intelligence agencies through proper legislation like the CIA act and the Intelligence act consecutively. Until and unless similar legislation is rolled out in Pakistan such incidents will keep on happening”, says Barrister Salahudin, a lawyer who specializes in these cases.

According to Salahuddin, all civilized nations around the world have laws restraining their intelligence agencies, but no such law exists in Pakistan.