Islamabad: Forced disappearances negate the very essence of humanity and cannot and should not be tolerated or justified, a Pakistani daily said on Tuesday as a UN panel arrived here on an information gathering mission.
An editorial in the News International said the country`s missing persons` cases have finally caught the imagination of the international community and a United Nations working group on enforced and involuntary disappearances has arrived on an information-gathering mission on the invitation of the Pakistan government.
"The arrival of the working group is a welcome step in a country where we have as yet not even determined the exact number of `missing persons` - a phrase popularised in Pakistan in 2001 soon after the United States` invasion of Afghanistan and the beginning of the US-led war on terror," said the daily.
The daily observed that when the UN`s experts get down to the task of gathering information on cases of enforced disappearances, especially the measures adopted by the state to prevent and eradicate them, "it is almost certain that they will be confronted with the picture of a state that neither understands the problem, nor is interested in self-reform".
"For here in Pakistan, issues related to truth, justice and reparation for victims of enforced disappearances pale in comparison to weighty notions like national sovereignty and integrity in whose name countless injustices have been committed in the past and continue to be committed," it said.
The daily went on to say that "forced disappearances negate the very essence of humanity and cannot and should not be tolerated nor justified".
"Indeed, if there is one lesson to learn on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11 and the wars and destruction triggered by it, it is that we cannot justify illegal and extrajudicial violence against our citizens, whether it is to counter terrorism or fight organised crime," said the editorial.
"The task that thus confronts Pakistan is not only to find the disappeared and achieve justice for the thousands of forced disappearances that have occurred in the last decade; the challenge is also to end the phenomenon altogether, for all times to come.”
"Until that happens, people in Pakistan will continue to suffer the ceaseless sorrow of uncertainty and insecurity suffered both by the missing and those who would much rather think their loved ones are `missing` than dead," it added.