Pakistan

Baloch missing persons: Objection only on spy agencies' 'unlawful work', says IHC judge

"Intelligence agency will now be called to a police station," says IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq

Awais Yousafzai
May 21, 2024
Baloch missing persons: Objection only on spy agencies' 'unlawful work', says IHC judge
Islamabad High Court's Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani. — IHC website/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 Tuesdaywhile hearing a case pertaining to 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.

The judge's remarks come a day after he, while hearing a case relating to the recovery of missing Kashmiri poet and journalist Ahmed Farhad Shah, was irked by authorities' failure to recover the poet and had questioned whether spy agencies would run the country or the law.

The poet was allegedly abducted from his house last week and his wife had moved the IHC seeking his recovery.

"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 remarks then warranted a strong response from the federal government with Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar stressing that the court didn't have the mandate to drag senior military officers and government officials to the court in the case of a missing person.

"This is not the mandate of the court, the court is a platform for providing justice in line with the law and Constitution," Tarar had said during a press conference in Islamabad, as the rift grows between institutions.

The hearing

During the hearing today — 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 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.

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.


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