PESHAWAR: A brother of human rights defender and political activist Idress Khattak on Monday moved the Peshawar High Court seeking orders for the production of his brother and determine legality of his arrest and detention by an intelligence agency.

In a petition, Idress’s brother Owais Khattak claimed that an official of the Military Intelligence admitted before the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (CIED) in Islamabad on June 17 that his brother was in the intelligence agency’s custody and would be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act, 1923.

He requested the court to direct the authorities to produce investigation records under the Official Secrets Act before the high court.

The petitioner said his petition against the disappearance of Idress Khattak, a former provincial general secretary of National Party, since Nov last year was pending with the high court.

Brother also prays court to determine legality of detention by spy agency

He said a focal person of the federal and provincial governments had to submit a statement on behalf of the respondents, including the Military Intelligence (MI), before the high court. The petitioner said the petition was fixed for hearing on July 24.

He said he had sent a letter to the Working Group on Enforced Disappearances, a United Nations body, about the disappearance of Idress Khattak, so the respondent (MI) after many months of his detention admitted it before the CIED that the rights defender was in its custody.

The petitioner contended that the detainee was picked up on Nov 13, 2019, and he remained missing until his whereabouts were disclosed before the CIED on June 17, which meant he was detained for more than seven months without support of any order of the court.

He added the law, justice, equity and fairness demanded that the detainee be brought before the high court hearing the earlier petition so that it could look into the legality or otherwise of his long detention.

A panel of lawyers, including Abdul Lateef Afridi, Tariq Afghan, Barrister Sarwar S Shah and Sajeed Khan Afridi, is representing the petitioner.

The petitioner claimed that the detainee was taken away from Swabi Toll Plaza near Peshawar-Islamabad Motorway along with the driver of a rented car on Nov 13 and since then, he had been incommunicado, whereas the driver was freed after two days.

He said the detainee had studied in the erstwhile Soviet Union and held a PhD degree in anthropology from a Soviet university.

The petitioner said for the detainee’s recovery, he had also lodged a complaint with the Chota Lahor police station of Swabi district and that was incorporated in the Daily Diary on Nov 18.

He said the detainee had been the general secretary of the Alumni Association of Russian Graduates in Pakistan.

The petitioner said the detainee had returned to Pakistan more than 20 years ago from Russia and didn’t go there again.

Published in Dawn, June 30th, 2020