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PHC to penalise lying intelligence officers

Updated July 24, 2013

PESHAWAR, July 23: The Peshawar High Court on Tuesday directed the defence and interior ministries to file individual affidavits of the relevant intelligence officers in every missing person case, observing it would help penalise those officers in case detainee was traced in their custody.

A bench comprising Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel and Justice Musarrat Hilali observed that it was unfortunate that when the court pressured intelligence agencies for recovery of missing persons, their bodies were dumped in different areas.

It asked the representatives of the defence and interior ministries that instead of giving simple statement about a missing person that he was not in custody of any of the agencies, they should produce proper affidavit of the relevant intelligence officials expressing ignorance about a particular detainee so that in future, the said officials could be held responsible if the detainee was recovered from their custody.

The bench was hearing around 250 habeas corpus petitions filed by scores of people seeking orders for intelligence and law-enforcement agencies to free their missing relatives.

The hearing was later adjourned until Sept 19.

The bench observed that if intelligence agencies wished, the issue of missing persons could be resolved within a few days.

Justice Mazhar Alam observed that the missing person issue had tarnished the intelligence agencies’ public image and that the agencies were losing the people’s trust.Several officials appeared before the bench.

Among them were deputy attorney general Farooq Shah, standing counsel for the federal government Fareed Kundi, director (legal) at the defence ministry Group Captain Irfan, additional secretary at the interior ministry Tariq Hayat, representative of Frontier Corps Major Farrukh and additional advocates general Neelum Khan, Naveed Akhtar and Malik Mujtaba Khan.

Group captain Irfan informed the bench that four detainees had been shifted to notified internment centres.

He said detainees Qaisar Shah, Asghar Shah and Sameer Nawaz were shifted to internment centre in Lakki Marwat, while the fourth one, Ajab Khan, was shifted to the centre at Pakistan-Austrian Institute for Tourism and Hotel Management (PAITHAM).

The official claimed that Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) had completed ground check about 108 detainees and declared they were not in their custody.

He said ground check about rest of the detainees was underway following which final report would be given to the court.

AAG Malik Mujtaba told the court that body of another missing person, Sardar Khan, was recovered a few days ago in Karak district.

He said Gul Sangha, mother of the slain person, had filed a petition regarding the disappearance of her son.

The bench ordered the relevant police official of Karak district to appear on the next hearing to apprise it of the details of the case, including investigation.

Additional secretary at the interior ministry Tariq Hayat said none of the detainees mentioned in the list provided by the high court were in the custody of any of the agencies functioning under the interior ministry.

When Justice Mazhar Alam asked him how many names were mentioned in the list, he expressed ignorance to the annoyance of the bench, which observed that when he was not aware of facts of the cases, why he had turned up.

Meanwhile, the bench was informed about release of one million rupees as compensation by the federal and provincial governments for an old woman whose only missing son had disappeared before being killed.

The body of the man was later found stuffed in a gunnysack by the Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway in the jurisdiction of Parang police station on the outskirts of Peshawar.

The court had ordered the payment of compensation to woman, Hameeda Bibi.

The woman had suspected that her son, Farmanullah, was taken into custody by intelligence agencies before being killed in custody.

Representatives of the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments informed the bench that Rs500,000 each was released by the two governments to the Peshawar commissioner, who will pay it to the woman.

The woman had claimed that her slain son was a watchman and vegetable seller and the sole breadwinner of her family.

Also, the bench summoned the political agent of Khyber Agency due to non-payment of compensation to the legal heirs of two other missing persons, whose bodies were later dumped in Bara tehsil of Khyber Agency.

Amjid Ali and his uncle, Said Khan, of Adezai area were allegedly picked up by local police from Peshawar’s Ring Road on Dec 11, 2011, and handed over to the tribal administration of Khyber Agency.

Amjid’s father, Yousaf Khan, had filed a petition. Hearing into it was fixed for Nov 29, 2012 when a day earlier, he was informed about the dumping of the bodies of the two detainees in a watercourse of Khyber Agency.