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Missing persons: IHC wonders if there is a state within the state

Justice Minallah says no efforts being made for recovery of missing persons Says PM should let everyone know if he is helpless

Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Friday asked who was responsible for enforced disappearances of people, and wondered whether there was a “state operating within the state”.

Justice Minallah’s questions came during the hearing relating to the disappearance of journalist Muadassir Naro and five other people.

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The IHC chief justice said the relevant authorities were ordered in the previous hearing to produce the disappeared people and asked the deputy attorney general where they were.

At this, the deputy attorney general told the court that the federal government had constituted a committee for the missing persons and the relevant investigation agencies were employing efforts to recover them.

“Don’t involve this court in the matters of committees. Tell me whether you will implement [the orders] or not? Where is the federal government?” the chief justice asked. He said people were being picked up every day and nothing was being done about it.

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He added that in the previous order, the court asked the federal government to issue notices to ex-president General (r) Pervez Musharraf and the prime ministers succeeding him. “Where are the notices and their affidavits?” he asked.

In the order issued last month, the IHC had directed the federal government to serve notices on Musharraf and all other successors – the former prime ministers and the incumbent holder of the office.

The IHC CJ noted that the matter of missing persons was “gravely serious” and the “attitude of the federal government was not commendable”. He asked whether the constituted committee had held meetings.

Justice Minallah said if the court’s order continues to go unheard, the incumbent interior minister and the former interior ministers would be summoned. He went on to say how everyone would feel if the court summoned the prime minister.

The IHC’s top judge said that all the governments were violating their oath and that the matter of missing persons should be among the top priorities of the national leadership.

In response to the IHC CJ, the deputy attorney general said that in the next hearing, the government’s stance would be presented as to what it was doing for the recovery of missing persons.

“No efforts are being employed for the recovery of missing persons,” the IHC chief justice lamented. He added that although just for show, the federal cabinet constituted a committee for the missing person. What efforts have they employed so far?”

“There are allegations levelled against the police, Intelligence Bureau (IB), and the intelligence agencies of armed forces. There are several missing persons. Tell me, which of these agencies has picked them up?” he asked. The IHC CJ said the prime minister should either say that he was helpless and if he was not, the constitution of Pakistan would hold him responsible.

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