In a cruel twist of fate the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (CIED) has disappeared itself. While it was not bundled into an unmarked car by men in civilian clothing with surprising tactical coordination, or forced into hiding after a barrage of death threats and from twitter trolls, it has chosen a much more crude method of disappearing – burying its head deep in the sand. The logic is airtight; if we do not acknowledge that people are going missing, then there are no missing persons. Viola! Problem solved.
The head of the commission, Retired Justice Javed Iqbal – previously of the Abbottabad Commission “Osama-Bin-Laden-who?” fame and currently of the “NAB-is-unbiased” infamy – gave a startling and borderline lunatic briefing to the National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights on Monday; chocked full of conspiracy theories. Somewhere Zaid Hamid must be straightening his signature red beret and nervously stroking his goatee, thinking that his position as the prime purveyor of bat-shit crazy fantasies is under threat – especially to a man with a respectable dyed grey streak in his hair.
Retired Justice Javed Iqbal spent a large portion of the hearing telling us that all of Pakistan is wrong about missing persons. Instead of journalists – like Zeenat Shahzadi – or activists – like Raza Khan – having gone missing for delving too deep into the goings on in Balochistan or criticizing the military apparatus, the real victims of abductions are “pro-army” people, who have been abducted by the CIA and RAW to pin blame on the Inter Services Agency (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI).
Boom! Mind. Blown.
What a unique and creative take on the whole issue. Was this a spy-thriller writing competition he would have surely won first prize – a tin foil hat and copies of “Loose Change: How 9/11 was an Inside Job”.
Unfortunately for Mr Iqbal this is the real world, where mothers from Balochistan have spent months camping outside of the Supreme Court and where journalists return after years, cowed and frailer than skeletons. This January Taha Siddiqui escaped abduction by 10-12 armed men by the skin of his teeth. The evidence is unbearable and insurmountable; Mr Iqbal not only refuses to see it but claims that the perpetrators are the real victims.
The lunacy didn’t stop there. Mr Iqbal claimed that the former dictator Pervez Musharraf had given up 4,000 men to spy agencies from other countries in exchange of dollars – a fact that was he claimed was admitted to by Musharraf in his book. When asked if he could provide more detail on this – consider he is the head of CIED after all – he chose to attack the Parliament for failing to do its job instead. Offence IS the best defense, especially if you don’t know anything about the subject you are being questioned on.
Mr Javed Iqbal has a reputation of being a “keeper of confidences” as opposed to a fiery inquisitor – as the still not public report on the Osama Bin Laden raid attests – and with his duties as an “unbiased NAB Chairman” keeping him busy it is only fair that he is relieved of his duty as the head of CIED. The people of Pakistan deserve better.
P.S. While ostriches who bury their head in the sand think they are well hidden from predators, they are unaware that they have left their asses hanging in the air like tantalizing targets.