PESHAWAR, Jan 10: The Peshawar High Court on Thursday directed the additional chief secretary and secretary (law and order) of Fata Secretariat to set up their camp office at Miramshah in North Waziristan Agency and stay there until the safe recovery of the eight kidnapped employees of Gomal Zam Dam project.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Khalid Mahmood directed the two officials to go to North Waziristan and supervise the entire efforts made for the recovery of the kidnapped persons.
It also expressed displeasure over the lack of interest shown by the political agent of North Waziristan Agency on the matter and directed him to coordinate with the political agent of South Waziristan Agency and evolve a joint strategy for recovering the kidnapped persons.
Chief security officer (north) of Wapda Wali Ayaz informed the bench that in line with the earlier order of the court, chief security officer of Wapda Colonel Mateen had gone to South Waziristan Agency and was in contact with the local administration. He added that social activist Ansar Burney couldn’t be contacted for being abroad.
During the last hearing, the court had directed the government to contact philanthropists and Ansar Burney to raise ransom money for the release of the Wapda employees.
Additional secretary (law and order) of Fata Secretariat Riaz Mehsud told the court that the secretariat had formed a jirga of religious leaders and tribal elders, who were in contact with the kidnappers for the release of the captives.
He, however, said after the recent drone attacks in tribal areas, the talks had hit snags as the kidnappers had changed their location.
Mr Mehsud said in accordance with the order of the court, a high-level meeting with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor in the chair was convened to take stock of the matter and that the governor had issued several directives in this respect.
Assistant political officer of South Waziristan Hameedullah Khan said the tribal administration had been pressuring the relevant tribe under the Collective Responsibility Clause of Frontier Crimes Regulation for recovery of the kidnapped persons without ransom.
The chief justice observed that under FCR, the tribal administration could adopt several tactics to pressure kidnappers but in the case in question, it had not been taking proper interest.
He added that safeguarding life and liberty of an individual was the constitutional responsibility of the government.
During one hearing, the court was informed that kidnappers had been demanding a ransom of Rs150 million and release of 17 militants by the government.
The relatives of the kidnapped employees had sent an application to the chief justice a few weeks ago which was converted into a writ petition.
The workers were on their way to Tank district from the dam site in South Waziristan on Aug 15 when they were taken away by kidnappers, who later turned out to be militants.
Later, the kidnappers released two video footages showing the eight employees pleading the government to fulfill the demands of the kidnappers.
The kidnapped men are engineer Shahid Ali Khan, mechanical supervisor Sanaullah, cook Munir Khan, driver Siraj, sanitation worker Liaquat Khan and daily wage workers, including Zeeshan, Zujaj and Siraj.
Their captors had earlier set a deadline of Dec 3 for killing the kidnapped persons, but at the request of their family members, the deadline was relaxed.