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Political | Dec 21, 2011

PAKISTAN: Army is silent on the disappearance of Captain 33 years ago

Dear President of Pakistan,
I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the disappearance of an army Captain since 1979 when he was sent to Kashmir on a “secret mission”. Since then his whereabouts are not known.

Name of victim:
1.Captain Ishtiaq Ali Khan Qaimkhani, officer at 25 Baloch Regiment, rank number 14623, resident of Tehsil Khipro, Sanghar district, Sindh province

2. Mrs. Sattar Bano, wife of Captain Ali Khan Qaimkhani, resident of Tehsil Khipro, Sanghar district, Sindh province

Alleged perpetrators:
1. General Head Quarter (GHQ) of Pakistan Army, Rawalpindi, Punjab province

2. Secretary of ministry of defence, Islamabad
Date of incident: 1979
Place of incident: Azad Kashmir, Pakistan
According the information provided to me by the family of the unfortunate army officer that Captain Ishtiaq Ali Khan Qaimkhani, an officer of the 25 Baloch Regiment, rank number 14623, was posted in 1977 in Bhimber, Muzzarabad, capital of Azad Kashmir (Pakistani part) close to Indian border where he was provided a military rest house for his residence. He was a resident of Tehsil Khipro, Sanghar district, Sindh province. In 1978, went to his house in Sanghar and told his wife that he was going on a secret mission to Kashmir (Indian held Kashmir) and that if he did not return after two years she should contact General Headquarters (GHQ) of the Pakistan Army who will tell her about his whereabouts.

I have learned that his wife, Mrs. Sattar Bano, married with Captain Khan in 1971, and when did not get any information about him she went to GHQ in 1981 and met with officers up to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. However, she was refused the information about him. She tried again during the military governments of General Zia and General Musharraf and also during the civilian governments of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Shareef but all her efforts were inconclusive. She has also written different applications to the Chief Justice of Pakistan, who is famous in taking Sou Moto, the Prime Minister and President but she had not receive any response even, from the Supreme Court.

On her application of 18 December 2007 (during General Musharraf's regime) the Prime Minister's house forwarded her application to the Secretary of the Ministry of Defence for appropriate action on 14 January 2008. The secretary forwarded it to the joint secretary-4 on 17 January 2008. But since then no action was taken. Mrs. Bano was told that the ministry is waiting for a reply from GHQ. She has also sent an application to General Kiyani, the Chief of Army Staff on 12 July 2011 and she is still waiting for the reply. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has also written to the Chief of Army Staff on 16 August 2011 inquiring after the missing Captain but has received no reply.

Mrs Bano wants to know the whereabouts of her husband and says if he is in Indian custody or if he has died she should be informed properly. She also demands to know as to why the army is withholding the information. She does not believe that her husband is dead and argues that whenever any soldier or officer from armed forces dies an official protocol comes to the house of the dead officer and properly informs the family about the death. This practice was not followed in the case of her husband. She is certain that he is in Indian custody and that the government of Pakistan, particularly the Pakistan military does not want to accept the responsibility for his wellbeing as then they will have to accept responsibility for his activities.

According to my opinion the case of Captain Ishtiaq is the gross violation of the right to information as the army and the government are hiding the actual information about him. This case also violates the rights of women where the authorities have paid no respect to a woman who wants to know about her husband. The attitude of the army and others has been to keep her in dark as she is not equal to men and has no right to ask about her problem. Information about the whereabouts of a disappeared officer is the sole responsibility of the authorities.

This is very shocking for me that army and government, both are trying to hide the information about him. If he is dead then it should be informed to his wife in formal way. But I doubt that he might have been arrested in India and Pakistani authorities particularly the Pakistan Amy does not want to take the responsibility of his activities and thus hiding the information.

It is incomprehensible for me that any professional military establishment could not have full and complete records about the activities of one of their officers. The only possible explanation was that Captain Khan was engaged in a secret mission that the army does not wish to make known to the public.

I, therefore, urge you to conduct a fair and impartial inquiry in to missing case of Captain Ishtiaq Ali Khan of 25 Baloch Regiment and prosecute the responsible authorities who sent him on secrete mission to Kashmir and are also hiding the information about his disappearance.

Yours sincerely,
William Nicholas Gomes
William's Desk

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