According to the United Nations Declaration on the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearance, ‘Any act of enforced disappearance is an offence to human dignity’. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, hundreds of families continue to wait for answers about their loved ones who have vanished without a trace. Estimates about the total number of such cases vary widely, but even the conservative approximations are much too high. According to Punhal Sario, a rights activist who recently organised a long march from Hyderabad to Karachi and a hunger strike camp for the recovery of missing activists in Sindh, said that the state had failed to protect the rights of its citizens when it comes to enforced disappearance. He further stated that ‘There is no difference in terms of the victimization of political activists, whether that is in Balochistan, Sindh or in any other part of the country.’ The history of enforced disappearances in Pakistan, as noted by senior human rights advocate IA Rehman, dates back to 1985. The public sphere discourse regarding missing persons is shrouded in layers of legal complexities, biased views on national security, and widely circulated misinformation about the backgrounds of the abducted persons. On the family’s part, there is a constant fear of untoward consequences for the missing persons, confusion regarding the legal course of action and an on-and-off glimmer of hope over the missing person’s return someday. The public sphere discourse regarding missing persons is shrouded in layers of legal complexities, biased views on national security, and widely circulated misinformation about the backgrounds of the abducted persons After the forced departure of their loved ones, the family’s life is often characterized by life’s daily struggle to arrange resources in order to meet household expenses, psychological trauma in the aftermath of the disappearance. This also includes dealing with the negative social attitudes mainly arising out of media propaganda against the missing person. Not only this, but another everyday reality are phone calls from ‘unknown’ numbers, forbidding the family to participate in public activities to campaign for the release of the abducted victim. There were 1,532 pending cases with the Commission of Inquiries on Enforced Disappearances (CIED) in the beginning of 2018 and 116 more cases were registered in February 2018 alone. Given this tragic discourse that has been going on for years now, it has become essentially crucial for the Government of Pakistan to act at their very earliest by taking effective and robust measures against this illegal and malicious practice. The increasing number of cases reported to CIED clearly demonstrates that such incidences are now occurring nationwide. Sindhi political activists have been targeted in particular. And sadly the ones who are attempting to raise their voice are themselves becoming victims at an alarming rate since the past few months. These tragedies continued even though the Government accepted recommendations which were made by the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) in its Universal Periodic Review to specifically criminalise enforced disappearances. However, the action bore little fruit since no effective implementation or concrete steps were taken to make disappearances in Pakistan an autonomous crime under criminal law. Hence, now as the agony of this current scenario across the country becomes unbearable, responsibility lies in the hands of the Prime Minister (PM) and the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan to ensure that the safety and wellbeing of its citizens is not compromised at any cost. These respectable authorities should urgently introduce preventive measures across the nation, promising successful outcomes with full force. It goes without saying that the relevant state intelligence agencies must also effectively play their parts as well and their help should be sought without further delay. There are a number of important proposals that require our utmost attention at the moment. First and foremost, the government should ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance as soon as possible. Mere acknowledgement or recognition of this convention is not enough. Secondly, they should introduce a policy that encourages payment of compensation for the families of missing persons who continue to suffer in silence for years without any support. Thirdly, Members of law enforcement and intelligent agencies should be properly trained with particular focus on cases dealing with enforced disappearances across the country. Their work should be properly monitored under the supervision of accountable civil authorities without any recklessness. Fourthly, there is a dire need for an independent tribunal to investigate enforced disappearance cases at the very earliest. Such tribunals should be given the power and authority to take immediate action against any state official that is found to be engaged in this illegal practice. Moreover they should immediately revisit their decision of leaving the issue of disappearance to merely a commission of inquiry alone that consists of mere resources and little authority. For a successful outcome to be achieved, it should either be turned into a judicial tribunal that has adequate and sufficient powers or a new commission should be established with proper facilities and adequate training. That said, the human rights defenders in the region should be assisted and supported using all possible means to address the common challenges and problems they encounter working on enforced disappearances. The matter should be diligently addressed head on. Otherwise, this illegal practice will continue to deteriorate the nation’s image for not dealing with disappearances with the seriousness the issue has deserved all along, not to mention the plight of the disappeared individuals and their families. Enforced disappearance is an offence to human dignity and a grave and flagrant violation of multiple human rights guarantees, including the right to recognition as a person before the law, the right to liberty and security of the person and the right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The relevant authorities should now realise that enforced disappearances in the country are completely impermissible in all circumstances and no threat, no matter how serious, can justify this illegal practice. The writer graduated with an LLB Hons, University of London International Programmes. Twitter @fizzaalik Published in Daily Times, April 9th 2018.