Pak SC makes history by issuing notices to spymasters in missing persons case

Saturday, November 13, 2010

ISLAMABAD - The Pakistan Supreme Court made history on Friday by putting on notice the powerful spymasters of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intelligence (MI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) in abduction case of 11 citizens from the Adiala Jail, after their court acquittal on terrorism charges.

According to The News, the court’s order has been hailed by families of missing persons, the lawyers’community and others.

Prominent lawyer Justice (retd) Tariq Mehmood termed it a bold decision that had set a new milestone in the court’s history, adding, “Well done. It is a giant step indeed. We must give its credit to the learned court.”

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Chairman IA Rehman however refused to either appreciate or criticise the bold step. The HRCP chairman, whose organisation had moved the apex court on forced disappearances in Balochistan, remained silent when approached for comments.

“We don’t comment on cases pending in court,” he said.

Never in the history of Pakistan, have spy chiefs been served notices directing them to explain their position on forced disappearances that have been escalating since the military rule of Gen Pervez Musharraf, the paper said.

In the past two years, around 72 persons have been allegedly abducted by the intelligence agencies and a majority of them are from the Punjab, said Amina Masood Janjua, Chairperson Defence of Human Rights, whose own husband has been missing since 2005 with no clue about his whereabouts so far.

The paper quoted Janjua, as saying that according to a rough estimate, the figure of missing persons had crossed the 8,000 mark. However, her organisation had registered some 950 people whose families had approached her.

Organisations like the Defence of Human Rights, Pakistan and Voice of Balochistan Missing Persons have reportedly compiled separate lists of missing persons, with DHRP has registering 950 missing persons while VBMP has a separate list of 1,200 missing Baloch.

The intelligence agencies have been represented in the past mostly through the Defence Ministry and whenever their presence was made mandatory in the court, it was always through mid-ranking officers like Major or Colonel, said a court reporter covering the proceedings of the missing persons case.

There are numerous examples of abducting people allegedly by agencies under the garb of terrorism charges with evidence in this respect not produced before the court of the law. They are instead kept for good or released shortly before their death, the paper added.

In 2007, Amnesty International had issued a statement saying that it did not know if those subjected to forced disappearances were guilty or innocent, but it was their fundamental right to be charged and tried properly in a court of law.

By holding people in secret detention the government of Pakistan had not only violated their rights but also failed in its duty to charge and try those suspected of involvement in attacks on civilians, Amnesty had added. (ANI)

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