Azzam, only son of Abdul Allam who became ill after his father was abducted
Disappearances are common in Pakistan, a visit from security forces in the middle of the night, a businessman on a bus journey who never arrives, a political activist kidnapped off the street in front of his children. So it is of no surprise to hear of the alleged abduction of Abdul Allam (age 31) from his uncle’s home in Abdul Hakim district of Khanewal in the Punjab province of Pakistan.
Abdul Allam is the son of Dr Shafiq ur Rehman who was in charge Emergency Department of Bahawal Victoria Hospital Bahawalpur. He was a diligent student and completed an MA in Islamic studies and Arabic as well as a Master of Philosophy degree in Islamiat (Islamic religious studies) at the University of Sargodha. Only two days after starting a teaching post he was arrested whilst sleeping at a family residence. The following information was given by a contact familiar with the case, he stated,
“3 vans and at least 30 person of Elite force plus Punjab police came to arrest him on midnight of 26th august 2015. From then no one knows where he is. Even local SHO refused to file an FIR (First Information Report) against Elite forces and the case in Multan Court is rejected after refusing of DCO Khanewal that they have arrested a person.”
The family are very distressed at his disappearance and struggling as Abdul Allam was the main wage earner for the family. His father retired in May and his sister has special needs and requires assistance with walking eating and is unable to use the wash room on her own. There is another brother who is currently unemployed so all responsibility lies Abdul to support his relatives.
Abdul Allam with his son (now deceased)
Azzam is said to have died of a “heart attack” exactly 2 months after his father went missing
Abdul is also married with one son Azzam. The boy was said to be very attached to his father and his absence affected Azzam greatly. He grew weaker day by day, unable to cope with the loss, ” when Eid ul Azha (Islamic festival) came Azzam said to his mother “Mama don’t wake me early in the morning because it will be an Eid day. Let my father come and wake me”. Tragically exactly 2 months after Abdul’s disappearance, Azzam died from a heart problem. It is unclear if this was a longstanding health issue or developed since his father went missing.
Security services have a job to do, however what is happening all over Pakistan through disappearing people is “collective punishment” where the family of a detained person are subjected to a form of retaliation through denying them information or access. When a person is taken into custody there must be a procedure for recording their destination, allowing access to a lawyer and medical care and informing the family of the person’s whereabouts. In many cases this is not happening and there is little accountability, also they be afraid to file an FIR or not allowed to go through the process which would require accountability from the state.
School registration form relating to Abdul Allam for identity purposes
Umme Azzam is not only grieving for her child but extremely worried regarding the wellbeing of her husband. She explained her fears were of him going missing outside the home but if that happened what could they do but they did not anticipate he would be abducted from a family home. She said,
“at this time of trial, have a look in the prizes and blessing of Allah. Father had the habit that if his phone would run out of battery, he would not recharge it, he would forget the mobile at home and also he would make the phone silent and keep it in his pocket. We would get tired of calling him and he would see his phone when he got home. He would go out for one errand but would return after travelling the whole city and his mobile would be switched off. We were so disturbed about this habit but we realised he will not change so when his phone would be off we did not worry too much. Please consider this that was it not a blessing of Allah that father was picked up from the house. If he was picked up while going to work or if he had vanished while walking around town then could we have done anything? Imagine if this incident had happened outside the house then we would have been content that he is around somewhere and will come back soon and if he would not have returned we would have been in such agony. Then we never would have imagined that he would have been picked up by the agencies. Then what would have been our state. In the end وَاسْتَعِينُوا بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلَاةِ ۚ “
Amina Masood Janjua holding a photo of her missing husband who disappeared in 2005 (Image Express Tribune)
Amina Masood Janjua who runs an organization called Defence of Human Rights (DHR) knows the pain of losing a family member in such and brutal and inhumane way following the disappearance of her husband in 2005. Earlier this year on the tenth anniversary of Masood going missing she stated,
“we know that our homeland is facing many problems and dangers. During the past one year government has passed laws to legitimize enforced disappearance, constitution was modified but count of missing persons is increasing by the day. We have been waiting with hopeful silence that our enforced disappeared relatives would be recovered because of the impunity provided to the security forces but there is no improvement in the situations. Silence of government is compelling us to once again take our struggle to roads. Being responsible citizen peaceful protest is our right. We urge the government of Pakistan to solve the missing person issue.”
It is hoped that for both women that there will some form of resolution.It is detrimental to the health and wellbeing of families when they are denied information on loved ones. There are concerns about their health and fears of torture during incarceration. In addition disappearing people is a security risk for the state as it funerals anger and incites some to retaliate. Each family has suffered an additional bereavement after their husbands went missing increasing their distress and grief. They call upon those holding their loved ones to communicate with them regarding their place of detention so that they can at least know their loved ones are alive.
“Defence of Human Rights” (Help for families of missing persons)
“Amina Masood Janjua championing the cause of the disappeared”
“‘Disappeared’ in Pakistan: Wife marks 10th anniversary and calls for Masood Janjua to be freed”
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT 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”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.