March 15th, 2021 

By Rehan Piracha 


A promised deadline for a meeting of family members of victims of enforced disappearances with Prime Minister Imran Khan passed on Monday as Shireen Mazari, Federal Minister for Human Rights, assured them of a meeting in the last week of March.

Nasarullah Baloch, the chairperson of Voice for Missing Person Balochistan, told that last month relatives of 13 missing persons, mostly from Balochistan, had ended their protest camp outside the parliament building after assurances from Mazari that the prime minister will meet relatives of the missing persons by March 15. The families had also shared details of their loved ones with government officials, adding that Mazari told them the recovery of the 13 missing persons will be dealt on priority.

No word on 13 missing persons

Baloch said the deadline expired on Monday but no details were shared about the whereabouts of the 13 missing persons from the government side. “The federal human rights minister contacted me and told me that she will be meeting the prime minister today to discuss the date of the family members’ meeting,” Baloch said. The minister again assured them that the promised meeting with the prime minister will likely take place in the last week of this month, he said.

When asked about the progress over legislation on enforced disappearances, Baloch said officials of the law ministry had informed them in February that a committee would be vetting the draft recommendations for the proposed bill on enforced disappearances within six weeks. According to the Law Ministry’s Twitter account, Federal Minister for Law and Justice Barrister Farogh Naseem chaired a meeting regarding legislation on enforced disappearances at the Law Ministry on February 24. He said they had not received any update about the legislative process over enforced disappearances since they ended their protest camp in Islamabad last month.


Hollow words

Meanwhile, Haseeba Qambrani, whose brother Hassan Qambrani, and a cousin have been victims of enforced disappearances, expressed her despair that the assurances that had been made to the protesting families in Islamabad had eventually come to nothing. She quoted the statement made by Federal Minister Mazari, that Prime Minister Imran Khan was the first ruler who was paying serious attention to the issue of enforced disappearances, and reminded the minister of her words that ‘they would hear good news regarding their missing loved ones before March 15′.