Amina Masood Janjua recalls the date as if it were her own name:
July 30, 2005 - the day intelligence agents took her husband from a
Rawalpindi street. She hasn't heard from him since.
Like hundreds of others, Ms. Janjua has taken to protesting on
the streets, bringing international attention to what some say is
the dark side of Pakistan's lauded counterterrorism efforts: the
arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance of hundreds, if not
thousands, of suspects.
"There's no option for me but to protest on the roads. I think in
terms of seconds - how long will I be kept from my husband," Janjua
As these families wring their hands, developments in Pakistan's
court system highlight a different but equally troubling trend.
Alleged militants, many considered top Al Qaeda recruits, are being
released from jail, their sentences having been overruled - a
result, apparently, of Pakistani police resorting to methods of
incrimination that don't stand in court.
The two trends show how, a world away from the restive tribal
zones where the Taliban hold sway, the war against terrorism may be
faltering on another key battleground: within the ranks of the
"The United States should significantly restructure or even
withdraw its assistance to repressive regimes if their internal
security agencies fail to improve transparency, human rights
practices, and overall effectiveness," reads a RAND Corp. assessment
of Pakistani police published last week.
The report's authors, who also evaluated security forces in El
Salvador, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan, recommend that the US
government should "rethink the type and amount of assistance it
provides Pakistan's law enforcement agencies."
Such a change would constitute a significant reversal. Buoyed by
tens of millions of dollars in US and other foreign assistance,
Pakistan has cracked down on Al Qaeda at a significant cost to law-
enforcement lives, rendering more terror suspects to the United
States than any other counterterrorism partner, as the RAND report
Searching for the disappeared
But recent critiques claim that those efforts have gone too far.
Pakistan's Supreme Court on Monday criticized as insufficient
efforts by authorities to trace at least 16 people believed to be
held by Pakistani intelligence agencies for suspected links with
Judge Mian Shakirullah Jan, hearing a case brought by relatives
of the missing, accused the government of wasting time. He said the
efforts of "concerned authorities" to trace the missing "are not
satisfactory" and urged them to "speed up." The judge adjourned the
case until Jan. 15.
Amnesty International and other human rights organizations
estimate that between 1,000 and 2,000 men have been arrested in the
aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks. Detained on little or no
evidence, none have been formally charged, a flagrant violation of
Pakistan's constitution, analysts say.
Pakistan's government dismisses claims of arbitrary arrest. "Yes,
some of their relatives are not traceable," says Interior Minister
Aftab Ahmed Sherpao. "But that doesn't mean that the intelligence
agencies have custody of them. …