Could a truth and reconciliation commission help families of those termed “enforced disappearances” in Pakistan

Update on the case of Masood Janjua

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Amina Masood Janjua has been campaigning for eight long years to determine what happened to her husband Masood who disappeared in July 2005 (age 44) alongside his friend 25 year old Faisal Faraz while travelling together on a bus from Rawalpindi to Peshawar, see earlier link  https://activist1.wordpress.com/2013/08/01/amina-masood-janjua-championing-the-cause-of-pakistans-disappeared-as-she-marks-the-8th-annversary-of-the-search-for-her-missing-husband/

Masood is one of thousands of persons classed as “enforced disappearances” in Pakistan, caught up in the War on Terror, many allegedly detained by the security services without charge, trial and legal representation.

Amina set up the organization Defence of Human Rights (DHR) which submits each case of disappearance to the Supreme Court as well as to the Commission of Inquiry for Missing Persons and takes an average of ten to twenty days for each case

Amina continues to remain optimistic on being reunited with her husband, recalling that her father in law received a phone call from former military ruler Pervez Musharraf’s military secretary stating that Masood was still alive. However she has been forced to challenge other narratives regarding the fate of Masood as according to a statement from Lt Gen Nusrat Naeem (who could not be compelled to appear in the Supreme Court) he has been killed by terrorists. This statement however was declared false and not viable by a two member bench of the Supreme Court consisting of Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed who ordered the release of Masood Janjua and Faisal Faraz.

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Amina meeting politicians and speaking on International Day of the Disappeared

I received the following update from Amina on 24th September 2013

In the Supreme court proceedings of 23rd Sept 2013. Amina Masood Janjua pleaded to the honorable bench to include 5 more names of those who were at the helm of affairs related to her husband’s case and who should submit their affidavits regarding the disappearance of Masood Janjua and Faisal Faraz missing since 30th July 2005.

The list of names includes:

 1. Former President of Pakistan. Pervaiz Musharaf.

2. Former Sect Interior Kamal Shah.

3. Former Sect Defence Syed Ather Ali Abbas.

4. Former DG. NCMC Brig. Javaid Iqbal Cheema.

5. Former DG. NCMC Brig. Javaid Iqbal Lodhi.

The old list which was already submitted included the following names:

 1. Lt. Gen. (Retd) Nusrat Naeem.

2. Maj. Gen. (Retd) Safqaat Ahmad.

3. Lt. Gen ( Retd) Nadeem Taj.

4. Brig. Mansoor Saeed Shaikh

5. Col. Habibullah

6. Col. Jehangir Akhter (Retd)

7. Former Attorney General Malik Abdul Qayyum.

Honorable Justice Jawad S. Khawaja leading the 2 member bench ordered these 12 persons to submit Affidavits within 15 days through the Ministry of Defence. After the submission of these documents their cross examination forum will be decided. The honorable bench concluded that indeed it’s a great torture on the family to face this dilemma for such a long time. Considering the pain and suffering of the families and the enforced disappeared; Masood Janjua and Faisal Faraz, the Supreme Court intends to trace the abductees and conclude the case at the earliest in the interest of justice.

 We appeal to the political and military leadership to show solidarity with honourable citizens releasing them as soon as possible.

Amina Masood Janjua (Chairperson DHR)

Cases such as this have become an embarrassment to the security services and highly distressing for the families. Although the government Commission of Inquiry for Enforced Disappearance is in operation Amina has no faith in the process. International human rights campaigners wonder whether the setting up of a constitutional Truth and Reconciliation Commission might prove a better forum to elicit facts about the circumstances of many missing persons.

A Truth and Reconciliation Commission is generally tasked with discovering and revealing past wrongdoing by a government (or, depending on the circumstances, non-state actors also) in the hope of resolving conflict left over from the past. This process was used with some success in South Africa championed by Nelson Mandela and recently Imran Khan also highlighted the importance of considering this option within Pakistan.

Alistair Boddy-Evans wrote that “the adoption of this Constitution lays the secure foundation for the people of South Africa to transcend the divisions and strife of the past, which generated gross violations of human rights, the transgression of humanitarian principles in violent conflicts and a legacy of hatred, fear, guilt and revenge.” The emphasis is on understanding but not for vengeance, a need for reparation but not for retaliation, a need for ubuntu being human and connected but not for victimization.

http://africanhistory.about.com/b/2013/06/28/28-june-1995-nelson-mandela-announces-the-truth-and-reconciliation-commission.htm

I asked Amina her thoughts on this, she stated,

I truly understand that historically in such situations truth and reconciliation commission has proved to be the only way. I have tried to convey my will to T & R many times via letters, meetings, media and public speeches but as of yet the other party is silent and has kept itself completely hidden behind a wall of darkness. Now I am at a loss of ideas as to how to convince them.

Maybe if someone like Imran Khan takes up this issue wholeheartedly and conveys with full conviction, I am confident the possibilities of resolution are 100%

In a statement given during a Supreme Court proceeding I have offered pardon to all those responsible if they release my husband and I can offer a certain level of assurance that all other families will follow my example especially if I persuade them.

So how are Amina’s family coping now?

Amina writes,

Presently Masood’s father Raja Ali Muhammad, a retired colonel of ninety two, is in fragile health and unable to move around, his condition deteriorating fast. Masood’s children have grown up without the love and affection of their very much alive father. In spite of getting along with life courageously, their hearts are broken as justice remains denied. There are immense financial and psychological and emotional agonies which have become a permanent part of the Janjua family.

Amina and her family deserve the truth, there can be no peace until they know what has happened to Masood. They do not speak of revenge, simply seek honesty and to be treated with compassion. As the years pass by and still no answers the old saying comes to mind…  “justice delayed is justice denied”.

Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad.  She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”.

About Carol Anne Grayson

Blogging for Humanity.... Campaigner/researcher global health/human rights/drones/WOT/insurgency http://www.esrc.ac.uk/ESRCInfoCentre/PO/experts/Health_and_Wellbeing.aspx Exec Producer of Oscar nominated documentary Incident in New Baghdad, currently filming on drones.
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