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Friday June 21, 2024

Baloch missing persons’ case: Objection only to agencies’ ‘unlawful work’: IHC

Justice Kayani stressed that court does not want to prevent judges, lawyers, journalists, parliamentarians and spy agencies from operating as per the law

By Awais Yousafzai & News Desk
May 22, 2024
A general view of Islamabad High Court. — Geo News/File
A general view of Islamabad High Court. — Geo News/File

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani has said that the court has only objection to spy agencies’ “unlawful work” and not the operations they perform lawfully.

“No one has any objection to the work of the [spy] agencies, the objection is [only limited] to the unlawful work,” Justice Kayani said on Tuesday while hearing a case about the implementation of the recommendations of the commission on Baloch missing persons.

Justice Kayani stressed that the court does not want to prevent judges, lawyers, journalists, parliamentarians and spy agencies from operating as per the law, but only objects to them working unlawfully. “Now the matter has gone beyond the jurisdiction of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Military Intelligence (MI). They are talking about their failure,” Justice Kayani had said in response to the Ministry of Defence’s remarks saying that Shah wasn’t in ISI’s custody.

The hearing was attended by Attorney General Mansoor Usman and lawyer Imaan Zainab Mazari-Hazir who were representing the federal government and Baloch students, respectively — the former presented the Missing Persons’ Committee report. Justice Kayani inquired how many people were arrested, went missing and were harassed in the past 10 years.

In response, the attorney general said that there has been some progress on the matter. He also stressed that intelligence agencies cannot harass anyone. To this, IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq said that the spy agency officials would now be called to appear at a police station. Underscoring the allegations that many people are being held by the agencies, Justice Kayani inquired whether the financial burden of this is catered via the government budget since such individuals must also consume food while in custody. “Is there an annual audit of agency funds,” the judge questioned. “We have to make the police, the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) effective, these are the three agencies that have to investigate [and] the other agencies can support them,” he said.

Meanwhile, AG Awan maintained that the issue — of missing persons — cannot be solved until a political solution is reached. “The state will have to show compassion [...] we have done a lot of work in missing persons cases, we will do what is left, just give us some time,” said the attorney general.

Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) ordered the government to recover missing Kashmiri poet Ahmed Farhad by Friday. Farhad was allegedly abducted from his house last week. His wife moved the IHC seeking his recovery on May 15 and requested the court to identify, investigate, and prosecute those responsible for his disappearance. Human rights lawyer Iman Mazari represented the poet’s wife in the case.

The IHC judge received Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan’s assurance about the Farhad’s rescue and recovery.

“[We] will do whatever it takes. [We] will rescue and recover [Farhad],” the AGP said while addressing the IHC judge and taking the responsibility to look into the matter.

The hearing was also attended by interior secretary and Islamabad Inspector General of Police (IGP) Syed Ali Nasir Rizvi.

During the hearing, Justice Kayani ordered the AGP to ensure that “no one gets picked up from Islamabad”. “If a person does not get recovered, it will be a failure of the state,” the judge said.

Responding to the remark, AGP Awan asked for time to ensure the poet’s recovery.

The court asked the AGP if the statement he gave was in given after consultation with the federal government.

Meanwhile, the petitioner’s lawyer asked the AGP to share the progress on recovery made in the last six days.

“If the agencies don’t have him [Farhad] then he can be traced at least,” she argued.

She said that this was not the only such case she had been dealing with. “I appear in such cases every day.”

At this, Justice Kayani told the AGP that the matter has put the government in more trouble.

Responding to the judge, Awan said: “I am assuring you that all the available resources will be used.” Later, the Islamabad Operations SSP was summoned to the rostrum, who told the court that the police had received a written statement from the Ministry of Defence due to the absence of a senior official.

At this, the judge asked if the statement given by the ministry was under Article 161.

“Police know what they are supposed to do. The court will not interfere in the investigations,” Justice Kayani remarked.

Meanwhile, the Interior secretary also appeared in the court for the hearing, while the defence secretary was absent.

“Whenever the defence secretary is called he does not appear,” the petitioner’s counsel said.

Justice Kayani said this practice needs to be ended, asserting that everyone must appear when summoned by the court.

“If the prime minister can come to the court, then everyone can come. No one is bigger than him,” the judge remarked, while directing the defence secretary to ensure his appearance in court at the next hearing.

The court then adjourned the hearing of the case till Friday.

Moreover, Justice Kayani said that it does not matter if someone holds a press conference on behalf of someone stating that the courts are beyond all these things.

The court then adjourned further hearing of the missing persons case till June 14.