ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday proposed that state functionaries responsible for providing protection to citizens should be tried on a high treason charge for enforced disappearances.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, who made the observation during the hearing of a petition seeking safe recovery of ‘missing’ journalist Mudassir Mehmood Naaru, observed enforced disappearances gave the impression that state was behind such a heinous crime.

Since the buck stops at the federal government, the head of government should identify those individuals in the institutions under his command who are found to be behind enforced disappearances, the chief justice said. Summoning officials of subordinate departments answerable to the prime minister and federal cabinet would be a futile exercise, he added.

Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan assured the court of extending full cooperation for strengthening the democratic government and upholding the rule of law. He, however, sought time from the court to communicate the suggestions to the federal government.

AG seeks time to share with govt the proposal of officials’ trial in missing person cases

Subsequently, the court adjourned further hearing for four weeks.

Imaan Zainab Hazir-Mazari, counsel for the family of the missing journalist, argued that officials of the spy agency should be held responsible for enforced disappearance of any citizen from their respective jurisdiction.

However, Advocate retired Lt Col Inamur Rahim argued that the PM and federal cabinet were responsible for the safety and security of citizens and if they would fail to protect the life of a citizen, then they were liable to be tried for subversion of the Constitution under the Rules of Business 1973.

Justice Minallah observed that even the media was not independent to cover miseries of ‘missing’ persons and their families. According to him, media in civilized societies gives vast coverage to such cases of enforced disappearance but Pakistani media seemed reluctant to carry even a photo of the children of a ‘missing’ person.

Referring to the ‘abduction’ of Assistant Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Sajid Gondal, the IHC chief justice remarked that a young man had illegally been taken into custody and was forced to give the statement that he had gone “to the Northern Areas on his own”.

Justice Minallah then appreciated Prime Minister Imran Khan for holding a meeting with the family of the ‘missing’ journalist. The premier had met the aggrieved family last week.

Published in Dawn, December 14th, 2021

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