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Friday June 14, 2024

Missing poet case: IHC allows live broadcast of missing persons’ cases

Investigating officer has been directed to record statement of ISI sector commander

By Awais Yousafzai
May 25, 2024
A sign board outside the Islamabad High Court. — APP/File
A sign board outside the Islamabad High Court. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has allowed live broadcast of all missing persons’ cases.

The court also directed the Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence sector commanders, the Intelligence Bureau director, and the interior and defence secretaries to appear in person on May 29 in the case for the recovery of kidnapped poet Ahmed Farhad.

The court also directed the federal law minister and law secretary to appear before the court as amici curiae. The court also told investigation officer to record the statement of the ISI sector commander under Section 161 of the CrPC. It noted in its order that the court considers it necessary that all institutions should work within their constitutional limits.

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani has issued a written order in the case pertaining to the kidnapping of poet Ahmed Farhad, in which it has been said that the court allows the reporting of the case proceedings.

Police officials submitted that the location of the abductors has been traced, and they will be able to reach the relevant place and the people soon.

The investigating officer has been directed to record the statement of the ISI sector commander.

The attorney general submitted that the ISI is directly answerable to the prime minister while the MI is attached to the defence secretary and the Pakistan Army.

During the court proceedings, journalist Hamid Mir said that Pemra has stopped the electronic media from reporting court proceedings.

The attorney general said that in the light of the notification the court can order the reporting of the case in which it deems it appropriate.

The court observed that this is an important case, so this court allows the reporting of the proceedings of this case. It observed that the problem of missing persons is not an individual problem, nor will it end after the recovery of Ahmed Farhad and all problems can be solved only after understanding the internal affairs of the agencies.

The IHC said the problem of missing persons is the most important public interest issue at this time and the main problem is that parliament has not been able to pass legislation to make the role of law enforcement agencies usable. It directed the government to file comments on its twelve queries. The court sought answers to the 12 questions.

The high court also directed the intelligence agencies to submit details of persons who were taken into custody and tell the court whether the intelligence agencies’ personnel found involved in illegal detention, blackmailing, phone taping were punished.

It asked the federal government’s agencies what the procedure of paying compensation to families of missing persons was. It observed that usually intelligence agencies, ISI and MI, were accused of picking up missing persons and due to such allegations the credibility and working of these agencies were affected and their image negatively impacted in the public. The court inquired what the duties of ISI, MI, IB sector commanders were and under which code of conduct they were performed.

The IHC inquired whether any investigation officer recorded statements of intelligence agencies’ officers, and if they were included in the investigation what the criteria was.

The court questioned the code of conduct of intelligence agencies in case they were working with the FIA and CTD. It also inquired what the expenses were in case a national or foreign national was taken into custody.

The court directed ISI, MI, IB officers to assist the court about the administration matters of their office and tell it what the system of accountability in their departments was.

It directed the secretary of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists to tell the court what the outcome of reporting of cases of missing persons was and how this reporting could help to protect the rights of citizens.

The court directed the Islamabad IG to submit details of missing persons’ cases since last year and bring it to the notice of the court whether statements of any sector commander or intelligence agencies officer were recorded.

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani remarked during the hearing that we have to stop forced disappearances as it is not just about the recovery of one person but is a matter about the recovery of the entire nation.

The court observed that this government has already faced the difficult times and it should have understood the plight of missing persons’ families. It inquired why news reports of journalists hurt the government so much.

The court observed that judiciary is not subordinate to any institutions, and institutions should not even think of doing such a thing, as whenever this was done in the past, it had terrible consequences.

Justice Kayani remarked that history of Pakistan is the most infamous history and if Ahmed Farhad had been recovered, then the petition would have been disposed of, but now he would give a judgment on the petition.

The court observed that now the police will conduct an investigation involving an intelligence agency’s officer in the missing person case and then the trial court will have the discretion to call him as a witness or not.

The court observed that the status of the sector commander is equal to the police SHO and he should not feel any shame in appearing before the court as all institutions are subordinate to the law and no one is dishonoured by appearing in court.

Advocate Iman Mazari said intelligence agencies usually do inter-agency transfer of the hostage and submitted that an affidavit should be taken from the MI as well.

She said the abductee was being forced to record a video statement to say that what he said in the past was wrong and he would not do it again. She said the guarantee of the attorney general could not be fulfilled and it was now being said that if the person comes out, he will come out by making a deal. She said that the life of the abductee is in danger.

The court also appointed senior journalist Hamid Mir and the PFUJ secretary as amici curiae and adjourned the hearing till May 29.