• Latest News
  • Pitch a Story
  • Work with a Journalist
  • Join the Blog Squad
  • Afghanistan
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Baltimore
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Russia
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Health Care
  • Military
  • Occupy
  • Organize This
  • Reality Asserts Itself
  • US Politics
  • Musharraf's Forgotten Dark Legacy: Pakistan's 'Disappeared'

    The arrest of General Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan provides new hope to the families of hundreds of Pakistanis who've gone missing since the 'War on Terror' came to Pakistan -   May 6, 13
    Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here


      Share to Twitter
    Share to Facebook

    What a hidden gem - Jack
    Log in and tell us why you support TRNN


    Musharraf's Forgotten Dark Legacy: Pakistan's 'Disappeared'HASSAN GHANI, TRNN CORRESPONDENT, ISLAMABAD: General Pervez Musharraf has certainly fallen a long way. Once the strongman in a nation of nearly 200 million, today he languishes as a prisoner in his own home, armed police and rangers outside, more for his own protection than to prevent his escape.

    He'd ruled the country for almost a decade, having overthrown its democratically elected government in 1999. But despite enjoying full support from the U.S. government as a loyal ally in the so-called war on terror, Musharraf fled Pakistan in 2008, after his attempts to overrule the country's judicial system failed and domestic political support completely collapsed.

    But with Pakistan facing corruption, instability, political violence, and an energy crisis, the general turned politician returned to the country last month as a self-styled saviour of the nation to run in the May 11 elections.

    For the General, it was a major strategic error. The support he expected simply wasn't there. What he did get was a shoe thrown at his face by a lawyer.

    Things turned from bad to worse as he faced a raft of lawsuits and charges stemming from his actions as military ruler. As Musharraf attended a hearing in Islamabad's high court, the judge issued an order for his arrest, a historic moment in a nation where military leaders are seen as untouchable.

    ?He quickly fled the court where the arrest order was issued and returned to his residence. He's now become a prisoner in his own farmhouse, here, outside Rawalpindi.?

    We were prevented from joining domestic Pakistani media at the entrance. The police told us they were under strict orders not to allow international media through.

    Amid all of this chaos, there's at least one woman who's glad Musharraf has returned to face justice, even if that wasn't his plan. Four days a week, Amina Masood Janjua drives to the Supreme Court in Islamabad to file cases for what are known as Pakistan's ?Missing Persons.

    One of Pervez Musharraf's biggest controversies, still ongoing but now almost forgotten by the mainstream media, is the campaign of enforced disappearances conducted by Pakistan's intelligence agencies at the behest of the United States in the wake of the invasion of neighbouring Afghanistan. Pervez Musharraf admits in his biography that he handed over hundreds of suspects, including many Pakistani citizens, without charge or trial, to the U.S. for bounties totalling millions of dollars. The campaign later included domestic political dissidents, human rights organizers, journalists, or those who simply appeared suspect. Some have ended up renditioned to U.S. secret prisons around the world. Others are assumed held by Pakistani agencies, for years without charge, trial, or any contact with the outside world.

    Amina's husband, Masood Ahmad Janjua, a successful businessman until his disappearance, is among them.


    AMINA MASOOD JANJUA: I believe that Massoud is still detained somewhere very close, I mean, in Rawalpindi or Islamabad area, where I have been given evidences from many detainees there are cells in this area. If anybody has died, you come to accept that thing, you know, your heart is at peace, because he is with God, the soul has departed. But feeling that your loved one is in trouble, he's detained, he can't see the sun, he can't breathe properly, he can't be given good food, natural air, and especially he's away from his loving family, these tears are [incompr.] It gives us more spirit to fight.

    INTERVIEWER: Why do you think after eight years they won't release him?

    JANJUA: I think they're afraid of the media factor, because it has been like one of the top of the list case and it has been [incompr.] like, because of my struggle, it has become too much of limelight. Everybody wants to know about the fate of my husband, what happened to him.


    GHANI: It was her husband's disappearance that sparked her activism. Today, Amina Masood Janjua is leading the campaign to trace and release these missing persons. Without the funds needed to hire lawyers, she's learned and applied the law herself, for both her own husband's case and hundreds of others in the same situation.

    JANJUA: If you think that they are terrorists, you bring them in open court of law and prove it. We also challenge that all those who are disappeared are innocent because they have been taken out of the reach of the law.

    I felt for those wives, those mothers who are in search of their loved ones. But they could not find any clues. All the corridors of power were closed for them.

    I found myself responsible to guide them or to hold their hand for recovery of their loved ones. I have become one of the lawyers--like lawyers, I would say. And the judges have accepted me like this.

    GHANI: There has until now been no progress on the likes of Massoud Janjua. Musharraf's return to Pakistan and subsequent arrest has provided new hope for those families whose members were disappeared under his regime and remain missing.

    JANJUA: He was the ex-president, as well as the chief of army staff. And when he is--the law is stronger than him. So if the law is holding him accountable, then in future the things will be brighter, of course. There'll be more rule of law. There'll be--the civil society is going to be stronger in future. And we are going to have a new political government very soon. So things will not be easy for the high-ranking in the army. So they are going to think twice now before doing any kind of illegal activities.

    LT. GEN HAMID GUL: Okay, now, we accept that Pervez Musharraf is from a Third World country, and Third World country rulers, particularly dictators, are very vulnerable [incompr.] But what about those who were buying human beings for $5,000? Is it not reminiscent of the slave trade with you to go on?

    GHANI: Retired general Hamid Gul previously headed Pakistan's biggest intelligence agency, the ISI, in the late 1980s. Once an ally of the U.S., fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, he's now become a fierce critic and says the United States must accept responsibility for the alleged kidnappings, torture, and renditions committed in its name.

    GUL: Somebody should question them. But I think the West as a whole and Western society as a whole is somehow becoming bankrupt in morality. And that really hurts us, because they set the values for us. Many of the exalted values were actually set before us, because we were ruled by the British for so long, and they told us rule of law, honesty, dedication, and truthfulness, and respect for humanity, and this, that, the other. Where has it all gone?

    GHANI: Amina's campaign includes cases from across Pakistan from all regions. I joined her as she travelled to the town of Bakkar, close to Pakistan's tribal regions. Here we met the children of Shaukat Hayat. They're now living with their uncle after the disappearance of their father.


    MUHAMMAD HAMAD, SON OF SHAUKAT HAYAT (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): He was leaving the house in Peshawar when the police and soldiers grabbed him on the main road. After that we have no idea where he is, and they won't tell us where he is.

    It's not his fault. He just worked in Peshawar and would come home after the evening prayer. But still they they grabbed him, like he's a terrorist or he's this or that.

    INTERVIEWER: But he never tried to harm Pakistan?

    HAMAD: No. Absolutely not. We've changed a lot compared to before. But you have to live. Difficult or easy, you have to bear it.


    GHANI: Also here to show his support was Noor Hasan from Multan, whose son Sajjad was taken less than two years ago. He too believes his son is completely innocent.

    NOOR HASAN, FATHER OF SAJJAD UL HASAN (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): A car came from behind, and there was a black car in front. They said, "Everyone get off. We're going to search the vehicle." That's when they grabbed him. They covered his face with a cloth and took him in a car. God only knows where they went.

    Two boys were released three months ago. I met with them. They said, "They'll release him. There's no case against him." So we can't understand why they don't release him. What's the purpose? Look, if they want to process him officially, if there's a case against him, do it. Bring it out in the open and do it. We won't object.

    What is this? We don't know anything, where he is, how he is. His mother is sick, doesn't know if he's alive or dead. We reassure her, but still there's a lot of pain.

    GHANI: Through its policies in the region, the U.S. appears to be creating new enemies unnecessarily. Many of these families were previously oblivious to politics, foreign affairs, and the so-called war on terror until it was brought down upon them.

    JANJUA: People get more annoyed and more angry. And when they come to the--even those who are not educated, when they run into discussion that why all these things are happening or why this is not stopping and why are people are not being released, they--at the bottom of all things, they find that there is a very big superpower involved. So in their hearts there's, you know, a bad feeling for this power, that whoever the U.S. is, they don't, like, wish it well.

    HAMAD: We have just one hope, that he'll come back soon and be with us.

    GHANI: It's possible that some of the men may have had links with Islamic organizations, but that isn't a crime, and there's no evidence that they've broken any laws. Those who are released refuse to speak to the media for fear of being abducted again. Amina claims some of the men have undergone serious torture, while others have died in custody.

    GHANI: When I first met Amina back in 2007, I filmed an interview with her husband's aging parents. Back then, their only wish was for their son Masood to face trial or come home while they were still alive. In January this year, Masood's mother passed away waiting for his return. His father, himself a retired army officer, under whom Musharraf once served, now waits alone.

    JANJUA: She was bedridden for four years. She fought and fought. And in the end he was simply asking that with--she couldn't speak, but she was--just used to ask about Masood with hands. So, in fact, she was waiting for her son.

    And when I went to her grave after her death, I uttered the same words which I used to say in her life. I told her that I will keep on struggling and that Masood will come back, I promise you that.

    GHANI: But Musharraf's legacy of enforced disappearances continues today. Amina Janjua claims the number of disappearances during the term of the current elected government have actually risen. So far, the civilian government's promises to resolve the issue have amounted to little more than lip service. But she remains optimistic that the U.S.'s upcoming withdrawal from Afghanistan and Pakistan's general elections this month will have a positive impact on these cases.

    JANJUA: The coming government will have a better opportunity to do away with the policies of the U.S. and with collaborating with the U.S. The military will also realize their mistakes by enforcing human rights violations, bombing their own citizens, abducting their own citizens, allowing drones to be on their own citizens. So that has only added to their problems and given them a bad name.

    GHANI: Amina says there are currently more than 900 people who remain disappeared across Pakistan, for whom she's filing cases at the Supreme Court. And she's investigating several hundred more.

    For General Musharraf, his fate too remains unclear. Nobody can quite understand what he was thinking returning to a nation where so many are now baying for his blood.

    It's here at the Supreme Court that General Musharraf's troubles first began during his rule, when the chief justice of Pakistan challenged his autocratic rule. And it's here, again, in Pakistan's courts that Pervez Musharraf finds himself fighting for his very survival, again miscalculating the strength of the judicial system. His predicament will come as a small but welcome measure of justice to the families of Pakistan's missing persons.

    With cameraman Arsal Jalib, this is Hassan Ghani for the Real News, in Islamabad, Pakistan.?


    Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at


    Latest Stories

    Affirmative Action Ruling Will Further Racial Inequality
    Evidence for Russian Involvement in East Ukraine Based on Shoddy Journalism
    Ivy League Study: The General Public Has Virtually No Influence on Policy
    The Modern History of Venezuela and Popular Democracy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (9/9)
    An Asia "Pivot" Should Mean Cooperating with China to Solve the Global Environmental Crisis
    Assessing the U.S. Environmental Movement
    Intimidation and Political Interference Goes Unpunished in UAW Case
    Exclusive Investigation Uncovers How BP Uses Bribes To Do Business
    The Modern History of Venezuela, The Protests and Democracy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (8/9)
    Greek Politics 4 Years After The Financial Crisis
    CBO Report Confirms U.S. Deficit Back to Normal Level
    Israel Uses Refugees as "Currency" in Arms Trade with Africa
    Who Will Pay for Climate Change Disaster?
    Canada Shifts to Right Under Harper, Mimicking the United States
    The Savings and Loan Crisis Demonstrates the Importance of Glass-Steagall
    South African Platinum Miner's Struggle Challenges ANC Leadership
    TRNN Original Report: Manning Determined to Fight Back After Army Upholds 35- Year Sentence
    Hundredth Anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre
    The Bundy Ranch Standoff Demonstrates Values Shared by Corporations and the Far Right
    The Resegregation of American Schools
    The Modern History of Venezuela, Why Still So Much Crime? - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (7/9)
    What Role Has Russia Played in Eastern Ukraine?
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (2/2)
    University Sit-In Targets World's Largest Private Coal Company
    The Modern History of Venezuela and the Need for a Post-Oil Economy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (6/9)
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (1/2)
    One Percent of Environmentalists Killings Lead to Convictions
    Investigation Finds Former Ukraine President Not Responsible For Sniper Attack on Protestors
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Ukraine Transitional Gov't Moves Militarily To Reclaim Seized Buildings
    IPCC Report Flawed By Narrow Focus on Carbon Emissions
    The Modern History of Venezuela: The Bolivarian Revolution - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (5/9)
    Obama Signs Directives to Reduce the Gender Wage Gap
    Eastern Ukraine Lacks Political Representation in Kiev
    Demystifying the Role of Mitigation in the Most Recent IPCC Report
    Hypersurveillance State Won't Prevent Another Boston Marathon Bombing
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Univ. of Maine Faculty Reinstated After Students Protest Against Cuts
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1908 to 1973 - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (2/9)
    IMF Will Address Global Inequality, Says Managing Director Christine Lagarde
    Raising Big Banks' Leverage Ratio Good, But Not Nearly Enough
    TRNN Replay: Austerity Road to 19th Century
    Has Palestinian Maneuvering Revived Peace Talks?
    Late Jackson Mayor Lumumba's Son Wins Primary to Replace His Father, Runoff Election Ahead
    Quebecers Reject PQ and Elect a Liberal Government Representing Big Business
    TRNN Debate: Decriminalization vs. Legalization
    The Beginning of the Chavez Era - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (4/9)
    "Off With His Head": Court Upholds Obama's Power to Kill
    Workers at Nation's Top Hospital Strike For Fair Wages
    From Exile to Radicalization in Venezuela - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (1/9)
    Rwanda 20 Years Later: Genocide, Western Plunder of Congo, and President Kagame
    Ukrainian Protesters in the East Demand More Autonomy From Kiev Government
    Hunger Strikers Demand President Obama Halt His Record 2 Million Deportations
    Indian Parliamentary Elections - A Primer With Vijay Prashad
    West Looks to Carve Up Ukraine & Privatize Industries Held by Kleptocrats
    Where Are Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations Headed?
    The Multiple Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia (5/5)
    Do the Afghan Presidential Elections Signify Progress?
    Republican Presidential Hopefuls Pay Homage to Billionaire Casino Tycoon Sheldon Adelson
    Will Extremist Lieberman Become Israel's Next Prime Minister?
    Why do the Saudis Want the US to Attack Iran? (4/5)
    Immigrant Advocates and Families Tell President Obama 'Not One More'
    Elections, Pipelines, and Protests - The Canada Panel
    Chris Hedges on "Israel's War on American Universities"
    Baltimore Residents Decry Lack of Affordable Housing
    Yellen Talks the Talk But Will She Walk the Walk?
    Hopkins Hospital Workers Speak Out against "Poverty Wages"
    Will Venezuela's New Floating Exchange Rate Curb Inflation?
    The European Central Bank's War on Wages is Pushing Europe's Economy to the Brink
    Supreme Court Decision Opens Floodgates for More Campaign Cash
    Charles Keating, the Financier Behind the Savings and Loan Scandal, Dies at 90
    Saudi Arabia and the al-Qaeda Monster (3/5)
    Maryland Residents Voice Opposition to Natural Gas Fracking Export Facility
    Supreme Court Ruling Gives Wealthy Individuals More Influence Over Elections
    What are the Saudis Afraid Of? - Madawi Al-Rasheed (2/5)
    Baltimore's MICA Adjunct Professors Set to Vote on Unionization
    Boycott of Israel Moving to Next Level?
    Hypocrisy Dressed Up as "Realism" Justifies American Alliance with Saudi Dictatorship
    Immigration Reform in the Shadows of Cesar Chavez's Legacy
    Leaked Senate Report Shows Use of Torture As "Ineffective"
    UN Report Says Climate Change Will Threaten Food Production Worldwide
    The Hypocrisy of US Calling for Enforcement of International Law
    How the Ecuadorian Economy Grew in a Global Recession
    'Shadows of Liberty' Trailer
    Kristina Borjesson on Why CBS Shut Down Her investigation into Flight 800 (2/8)
    Glen Ford on Racism in the American Media (3/8)
    Paul Jay on What Drives Corporate Media and What Drive The Real News (4/8)
    Creating a New Media Paradigm After Citizens United (5/8)
    Should The Left Engage with the Mainstream Media? (6/8)
    What Is the Financial Backing For The Real News? (7/8)
    Standing up to Character Assassination (8/8)
    Oligarchs, Fascists and the People's Protest in Ukraine
    TRNN Debate: Is Obamacare In the Interest of Workers?
    Too-Big-To-Fail Advantage Remains Intact For Big Banks
    Obama and the Saudi Agenda
    TRNN Replay: Investigating the Saudi Government's 9/11 Connection and the Path to Disilliusionment - Sen. Graham on Reality Asserts Itself pt 1
    The Iraq War's Real Legacy
    Petitions with 100,000+ Signatures Call for Snowden's Passport to be Reinstated
    We Need to Harness People Power - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (4/4)
    BC Pipeline Fight and Quebec Elections - The Canada Panel
    Jonathan Schell - 1943-2014: Board Member of TRNN on Why We Need The Real News
    Teachers on Strike from the UK to Argentina
    Connecticut Poised to Become First State with $10.10 Minimum Wage
    Oil Spill Threatens Wildlife and Local Economy
    DC School Test Scores Up, But Poor Black Kids Are Doing Worse - Andy Shallal on RAI (3/4)
    Obama's Proposal To End NSA Bulk Data Collection Won't Protect Privacy
    How Google, Apple & The Biggest Tech Companies Colluded to Fix Workers' Wages
    An American Should be One that Questions Their Government - Andy Shallal on RAI (2/4)
    What's Driving Putin & Obama's Posturing on Ukraine?
    Hundreds of Students & Faculty Occupy College Campus to Fight Cuts to Public Higher Ed
    Due Process 'Impossible' In Harsh Death Sentencing Of Over 500 Muslim Brotherhood Members
    Has Anglo-American Capitalism Run Out of Steam?
    Being the "Other" in America - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (1/4)
    TRNN Debate: Should Baltimore 'Ban The Box'?
    How Fallujah Became the Iraqi Government's New Battleground
    Why I Decided to Blow the Whistle on the NSA
    NASA Climate Predictions Show Serious Threat To Humanity
    Professor Who Teaches Israel-Palestine Conflict Accuses College of Violating His Academic Freedom
    CIA and NSA Wrongdoing Requires Independent Investigation, Says Former Church Committee Staff
    Are Tuition Breaks Enough To Combat High Student Debt And Low Graduation Rates?
    Industries Across the U.S. Are Stealing Wages From Their Lowest Paid Workers
    Who In Ukraine Will Benefit From An IMF Bailout?
    NSA Recording All International Calls From U.S.
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (2/2)
    BP Gets Green Light to Drill in Gulf, But Has Safety Improved?
    Residents Still Not Drinking Tap Water Two Months After West Virginia Spill (1/2)
    Libya's Descent Into Turmoil Three Years After NATO Intervention
    From Pipelines to Peladeau - Canadian Report
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (1/2)
    Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget Strikes Back Against Austerity
    Libya Three Years Later - Chaos and Partition
    Why Was Gaddafi Overthrown?
    Should Ukraine and West Accept De Facto Crimea Joining Russia? (2/2)
    Tony Benn Saw Socialism as the Culmination of Democratization
    Why Didn't Bush/Cheney Attack Iran and Can Obama Make and Sell a Deal? - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (3/3)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi? (2/2)
    Crimea Referendum: Self Determination or Big Power Manipulation? (1/2)
    Sen. Graham: President Must Side with Openness About CIA and 9/11
    Manufacturing a Narrative for War - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (2/3)
    Protesters Hit the Streets of Brooklyn to Demand $15 Minimum Wage
    Hammer: 'Moral Bankruptcy' Behind Massive GM Recall
    White House Withholds Thousands of Documents from Senate CIA Probe
    I Grew Up Believing in Time Magazine's Version of America - Gareth Porter on RAI (1/3)
    Western European Banks Vulnerable to Ukrainian Sovereign Debt Crisis
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (2/2)
    CIA vs. Senate: Who Is Obama Protecting?
    Will Tipped Workers Get Excluded Again From Minimum Wage Hike?
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (1/2)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi?(1/2)
    TRNN Replay: A Look at Who's Poised to Become No.2 at the Fed
    How Right-Wing Nationalism Rose to Influence in Ukraine (2/2)
    Netanyahu Attacks Boycott As Campaign Enters New Phase
    Moving Towards a Police State - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (7/7)
    Fighting Reagan's Secret, Illegal Wars - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (6/7)
    Puerto Rican Independence Movement and Cuba Further Radicalized Me - Michael Ratner on RAI (5/7)
    The Butcher of Attica - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (4/7)
    MLK and a Radicalizing Moment in American History - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (3/7), Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

    All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network.  Click here for more

    Problems with this site? Please let us know

    Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting