The Sindh High Court (SHC) observed on Thursday that the issue of missing persons should be a matter of serious concern for the home secretary and other authorities concerned but it appeared that the federal and provincial law enforcement agencies were more interested in letting each other down than finding those missing.
“There seems to be a tug of war between such agencies whereby efforts are made to let other agency down by withholding and or unshared information,” a division bench, headed by Chief Justice Mushir Alam, observed.
The bench made these observations during a hearing of a petition about the disappearance of a businessman from the Jodia Bazaar area on April 22, 2011.
Chief Justice Alam took serious notice of a lack of coordination between the provincial and federal law enforcement agencies, saying it appeared that the authorities concerned were “on the back foot.”
It observed that it seemed that the interior ministry did not concern itself with working out and streamlining cooperation between the provincial and federal government law enforcement agencies.
At previous hearings, the court had directed the Sindh inspector general of police (IGP) to look into the matter with regard to the non-sharing of information between the police and its other specialised units; however, no such exercise had been undertaken yet.
The court directed the home Secretary to personally look into the matter and establish contact with the federal law enforcement agencies in this regard.
The provincial law officer was also directed to communicate the court’s directions to the police and the intelligence agencies, including the ISI, MI, IB and CID, for compliance.
Mohammad Afzal, a brother of the late Saud Memon, who was also allegedly detained by US and local agencies for several years for his alleged affiliation with al-Qaeda and as well as for harbouring suspects involved in the killing of US journalist Daniel Pearl, had been missing since April 22, his wife Ayesha mentioned in her petition.
She submitted that her husband, a textile businessman, had gone to offer Maghrib prayers in the Jodia Bazaar but never returned. She said her brother-in-law, Saud Memon, was also detained by intelligence agencies in 2003 and later handed over to US authorities without any due process of law. She expressed the fear that the detainee may be killed over mistaken identity or otherwise.
The court directed the police and Rangers to streamline their mechanism by appointing a focal point so that both agencies could share information.
Hearing the detention case of Sajjad Rahim, who was allegedly picked up by Rangers soldiers on May 13 from Sher Pao Colony, the court took notice of lack of sharing of information between the police and the Rangers.
A Rangers official submitted that the court direction for cooperation with the police was being complied with. However, a police legal officer pleaded ignorance over the Rangers official’s claim.
The court had observed that both the IGP and the DG Rangers should work out a plan for sharing information. The court was informed that no clue had been found about the whereabouts of the detainee.