ISLAMABAD: Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Friday said that the state was involved in the practice of enforced disappearances as the court heard petitions regarding the recovery of missing persons.
During the hearing Friday, Chief Justice Athar Minallah asked the deputy attorney general why were people still “picked up”. “What steps has the federal government taken and who is responsible?” he asked.
In response, the deputy attorney general informed the court that the federal cabinet had constituted a committee on missing persons and would make recommendations on missing persons’ cases.
CJ Minallah further questioned the government representative as to whether the government had issued affidavits to former chief executives, including former president General Pervez Musharraf.
The deputy attorney general stated that the affidavits were under the purview of the attorney general, “he is abroad and if given some time, will present arguments on this.”
The chief justice expressed his disappointment with the conduct of the state and remarked that relevant parties were not giving the issue. “Today, the federal government has proved that it is not serious about such a big issue,” he added.
The IHC ordered the government to investigate the cases of missing people, adding that it would be preferred if the chief executive was present.
“You are proving that disappearing people has been the policy of the state since the days of General Musharraf, someone is responsible for the period in which people go missing,” CJ Minallah remarked.
The court also stated that as the practice continues and the government fails to comply with the IHC, they are largely ineffective.
The court then directed the interior ministry to ensure implementation of the May 25 order and said that no further adjournment would be given in the case and the parties should prepare arguments.
The case was adjourned till July 3.
The high court earlier ordered a detailed report from the Commission for Inquiry on Enforced Disappearance on its performance and standard operating procedures (SOPs) to address the issue of missing persons.
IHC Chief Justice Minallah asked the commission to tell the court about how it was formed, what its terms of reference (TORs) were and how they were implemented.
Subsequently, the court directed the federal government to issue notices to former military ruler Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf and all his successive chief executives of the country including incumbent PM Shehbaz Sharif as to why proceedings should not be initiated against them for subversion of the Constitution in context of the state policy on enforced disappearance.
CJ Minallah had also remarked that enforced disappearances were unacceptable in a country run under the Constitution and asked why not the chief executive of the country be held responsible for it.
Hearing a case about the recovery of journalist and blogger Mudassar Naro and other missing persons, the chief justice said that the cases of enforced disappearances attracted terrorism laws, and were tantamount to treason.