The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday said the presence of internment centres in the country gives an impression that forcibly disappearing people is a policy of the state.
During a hearing of the case pertaining to the recovery of journalist Mudassir Naaru and other missing persons, the IHC chief justice said the state cannot disappear anyone and it’s an established fact.
CJ Athar Minallah added it was the duty of the state to protect its citizens but in hindsight, it seemed that the state itself was responsible for disappearing dissidents.
During the hearing, Additional Attorney General Qasim Wudood said the state had no such policy and added that at least 800 people were missing in Pakistan.
However, Counsel Inam Rahim contested the claim and said at least 2,252 people are missing and the bodies of 221 missing persons have been handed over to their families.
“It was the responsibility of the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances to investigate these disappearances,” the counsel said during the hearing.
AAG Wudood said the cabinet will meet on Tuesday and added that the defence secretary has forwarded the case of Maira Sajid to the cabinet.
“I told the secretary to forward this case to the cabinet,” he said, adding that a committee comprising the defence secretary and other government officials had been formed.
The IHC also sought the TORs for the commission concerning the recovery of Naaru and other missing persons.
The court directed that the commission submit its report at the next hearing and the attorney general appear before the bench for final arguments in the case. The case has been adjourned till Febuary 28.
The Sindh High Court directed the additional home secretary to appoint a focal person on the issue of missing persons on petitions related to the recovery of missing persons including Pathan Khan Zahrani.
A two-member bench headed by Justice Muhammad Iqbal Kalhoro heard the petitions for the recovery of Pathan Khan Zahrani and others. Zahrani’s wife said, her husband has been missing for several months. “My husband’s kidneys were also not functioning. I don’t know how would he be doing,” she lamented.
The court was furious over the poor investigation of the police officers. Justice Kalhoro remarked: “Is this the way investigation is done in the cases of missing persons? You just appear on the date without any progress. What investigation have you done into the case?”
Justice Kalhoro said the court would order giving half of the salary of relevant investigation officer to the missing person’s wife besides suspension of the IO from service. The court while giving a respite of 15 days, directed that the whereabouts of the missing person may be traced.
Read More: SHC seeks progress report on missing persons
Meanwhile, the Sindh High Court has directed the public prosecutor to submit reply in the court after seeking it from the authorities concerned in a petition against non-provision of alternative accommodation to the Lyari Expressway victims. During the hearing of a petition, the Assistant Advocate General again asked for time to respond. The court remarked that the reply has not been submitted since 2018. “Neither the project director is coming to the court nor the mukhtiarkar while the government departments are shifting blame on each other,” the court remarked.
The petitioner’s counsel argued that plots are there but there is a fear that those would be encroached upon. The court adjourned the hearing of the case till February 10 and directed the public prosecutor to file a reply after seeking it from the authorities concerned.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 19th, 2022.