“On the next date of hearing, the procedure of challan and prosecution will start against the brigadier who was involved in the disappearance of Masood Janjua”.
Thus spake Justice Khawaja on July 9, 2013 while hearing the case about my husband’s disappearance. It was indeed a breakthrough that the witness statement was eventually honoured; the case has been going on since 2005.
Through all the political upheavals of Pakistan, Masood’s case has remained in the limelight, since it was the starting point of a great judicial revolution which brought about historical changes. It is at the top of the list of thousands of cases of those who were ‘disappeared’ in the wake of 9/11. It is also one of the greatest love stories of a Pakistan struck by the ‘war-on-terror’ – a tale of how the happy life of the Janjuas was abducted.
Taking it upon myself to get my husband back home, I started spearheading countless demonstrations in front of the parliament house in September 2006, shaking the foundations of the Musharraf regime. After that, there unfolds an unending story of street protests, rallies, day/night sit-ins and months’ long protest camps across the country, along with seminars and awareness campaigns.
The continuing saga spans over eight cruel years of dealing with this grief and living through the tragedy of a loved one who has been snatched away. The sacrifices were huge and the setbacks unforgettable. Unconsciously I made my way to the point where today – in July 2013 –my assistance in the hundreds of the cases of the ‘disappeared’ is appreciated.
A complete book can be written on the pain and the courage it took to reach here. I am proud and honoured to share that at the moment I am fighting 749 cases of the ‘disappeared’ by the special permission of the Supreme Court as a lawyer – although I am not a qualified lawyer.
As the number of the disappeared grows, so does my passion and determination to put an end to this torture of making innocent citizens go ‘missing’ and keeping them in secret detentions. This issue has gone a long way in scarring our land and its people. It is a needless compromise of our national honour and integrity and a bloody sacrifice given in the name of the so-called war on terror.
And what can one say about the political will and the missing conscience of our leaders – armed and political? It seems their interests are much more important than the fundamental rights of the citizens. They have not learnt anything from the fate of their predecessors – once powerful, imprisoned in a sub-jail. Like me, they too have witnessed governments change, parliaments come and go and so many top politicians leave the power corridors in the last eight years.
These people, though, never understood that this woman was trying to give the message that no matter how much time went by, no matter how painful the wait was, she would pursue her battle for justice.
I don’t know what lies in the way of the release of my husband, but I do know that insisting on brutality will not lead anyone anywhere. Rather, they should respect a heroic struggle and take up the responsibility to find, no matter how impossible it may seem, a way to unite us and seek forgiveness in this holy month of Ramazan.
I am a firm believer and my faith has been my strength all the way. I believe in one thing for sure: that Masood is going to come back to me.
The upcoming Supreme Court hearing is only a few days away from today – July 30, 2013 – the eight anniversary of Masood’s illegal abduction. I am confident that if they feel even a twinge of guilt, they will hand him over to me, pulling him out from a secret detention centre.
By: Amina Masood Janjua, Chairperson of the Organisation “Defence of Human Rights”.