PESHAWAR: A single-member bench of the Peshawar High Court bench on Friday directed a focal person for the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments to produce by Sept 2 reports about around 60 ‘missing persons’, whose relatives have filed habeas corpus petitions with it.

Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth held hearing into petitions in which scores of the relatives of ‘missing persons’, especially their parents, turned up and narrated their respective ordeals.

The chief justice directed an official of the home department, Kamranullah, who is the focal person for federal and provincial governments in the cases, to submit reports in those cases and inform the court regarding the whereabouts of detainees if they’re in the custody of any law-enforcement or intelligence agency.

In one of the cases, Mohammad Arif Jan, lawyer for Shamim, said three sons of his client, including Nek Mohammad, Akhtar Munir and Asghar Khan, were taken away by security personnel in Swat a few years ago.

CJ wonders how such cases will progress if families don’t name suspects

He said initially, the three were charged in a case of terrorism in which they were granted bail by a court and were subsequently acquitted.

The lawyer, however, said the three were taken into custody soon after their release from prison and they had been incommunicado since then.

He said in 2017, the body of one of his client’s sons, Asghar Khan, was handed over to the petitioner with the information that he was convicted and sentenced to death by a military court and was subsequently executed.

The lawyer said no information was available about the two missing brothers.

In another case filed by Bakht Mehal, her counsel, Arif Jan, said the petitioner’s son, Najeebullah, was taken into custody in 2013 in Swat and was kept in an internment centre, where the family members used to visit him.

He said in 2018, the detainee, Najeebullah, had gone missing from the internment centre and his whereabouts were not known.

The lawyer feared that the detainee would have been sent for trial by a military court and in the meantime, by the end of Mar 2019, the constitutional life of military courts trying militants expired.

He suspected that as the trial might not have been completed, instead of referring the detainee for trial by a regular anti-terrorism court, he had been kept somewhere else in illegal detention.

Another woman, Afsheen, told the bench that her husband, Rehmat Shah, was a student of a Swat seminary and was taken away by the security agencies in 2010.

She added that she had been living with parents passing through very difficult times.

The woman said she had a nine-year-old daughter, who often asked about her father.

Barrister Amirullah Chamkani and Hamid Ali appeared for another petitioner, Zar Ali, and said the petitioner’s son, Shahzaib, was a teacher at a seminary in Amangarh area of Nowshera district.

They said Shahzaib had gone missing in Mar 2016 and his whereabouts hadn’t been known since then.

The lawyers said the family suspected that its member was in custody of any of the security agencies.

Another petitioner, Nazeer Ahmad, a resident of Nowshera, told the bench that his son, Ishtiaq Ahmad, was a student in a seminary of Akora Khattak and had gone missing in Jan 2011.

He said nothing had been heard about the student since then.

The chief justice wondered how the court could ensure progress in such cases when the close relatives of ‘missing persons’ didn’t inform it about who had taken them away.

He observed that unless petitioners named specific persons for disappearance of their relatives, the court would continue to seek reports from the government.

Focal person Kamranullah requested the court to give him time to collect details about those ‘missing persons’.

The bench asked him to produce reports by Sept 2.

Published in Dawn, August 17th, 2019