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ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Defence told the Islamabad High Court on Thursday that it has begun investigating the disappearance of a scientist and his wife, nearly six months after the couple went missing from their residence in the capital.

In a written reply submitted before Justice Athar Minallah, the ministry said National Development Complex (NDC) general manager Nozair Hassan and his wife Omaima Hassan were not in the custody of Inter-Services Intelligence or detained by Military Intelligence (MI).

“The agencies working under the administrative control of this ministry i.e. Inter Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence, GHQ were asked to provide the requisite report, in response they have replied: Directorate General ISI has intimated that alleged missing persons namely Nozair Hussain and Omaima Hassan are not held in their custody,” the ministry stated.

Missing scientist, spouse ‘not in intelligence agencies’ custody’

The reply went on: “MI Directorate, GHQ has intimated that the names of Mr & Mrs Nozair Hassan have been checked against internees list (in all internment centers) however, the names were not found.”

The ministry said a “special probe” has been initiated to trace the couple and requested “considerable time” for the completion of the time-consuming process.

Mr Hassan and his wife were allegedly abducted at midnight on Jan 12 from their home in G-11, Islamabad, in front of their children, who are aged seven and four.

The petition in the case was filed by Khubaib Hassan, Mr Hassan’s father.

The petitioner’s counsel, Lt Col Inamur Rahim, argued before the court that the ministry had initiated an investigation to locate the couple six months after their disappearance.

He said it had shown their competence that a man working for a sensitive organisation had gone missing from his residence and the intelligence agencies did not know of the couple’s whereabouts or who abducted them.

Justice Minallah also expressed concerns about the agencies’ failure to locate the couple and sought their response in three weeks.

The counsel argued that being the country’s premier intelligence agency, the ISI should know how the scientist was abducted.

He said that according to defence laws, if an employee goes missing there should be an inquiry into the case within 24 hours followed by action reports to all those concerned. The defence ministry should apprise the court of what they had done in this regard in the six months since the disappearance, he said.

The petition had cited the Ramna police station house officer, inspector general of Islamabad police, the defence ministry through its secretary, ISI through its director general and the interior secretary as respondents.

The petitioner informed the court that on the night between Jan 12 and Jan 13 this year, a contingent of masked armed men in black uniforms along with some plainclothes individuals trespassed into the couple’s residence at around 2a.m. and searched the house.

“That after causing unexplainable harassment, chaos and confusion the armed men, surely believed to be men belonging to agencies, took along both the detenues 1 and 2 while leaving behind their two kids screaming, and crying for their parents,” the petition said.

The petition asked the court to direct the respondents to produce Mr Hassan and Ms Hassan before the court safe and sound.

Published in Dawn, June 29th, 2018