ISLAMABAD: Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday warned that a case could be registered against the caretaker prime minister and others if they fail to reunite the missing Baloch students with their families.

During the hearing, Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan told the court that, out of 50 missing persons, 22 had been recovered, while the whereabouts of 28 others were still unknown.

Justice Kayani expressed displeasure at the fact that 28 persons were still missing.

One of the petitioners, Saira Baloch, told the court that her brother Asif Baloch, along with his cousin, was picked up from a picnic spot in April 2018. She claimed that some people allegedly released from the custody of the intelligence agency disclosed that her brother was also in their custody.

She emphasised that her brother was a government servant working in the Police Academy.

AGP tells court 22 people recovered, whereabouts of 28 unknown

Justice Kayani remarked that the “state is responsible” for compensating the aggrieved families; however, this amount should be charged from public functionaries when it is established that the case was of enforced disappearance.

He said that enforced disappearance remains a lifelong trauma for the aggrieved family, as the heirs can overcome the grief of a death, but they continue to wait for the missing one for the rest of their lives.

He warned that the court could order the registration of a case against the authorities, including the prime minister, if they fail to address the issue.

The AGP requested time for the government to meet with the families of the missing persons.

Justice Kayani emphasised that anyone involved in insurgency against armed forces should be dealt with in accordance with the law.

During the previous hearing on Nov 22, the court had summoned the caretaker prime minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar, ministers for defence and interior, along with the secretaries of these ministries.

PM Kakar was already on an official tour, while the court was told that the defence secretary was also busy in some already schedule engagement.

Interior Minister Sarfaraz Bugti and Human Rights Minister Khalil George appeared before the court.

Mr Bugti asserted that there was no justification for the disappearance of any individual who had gone missing.

“We will fulfil our responsibility,” he assured the court.

Mr Bugti said that the missing persons included several people who were “judicial absconders”. He mentioned that some had also fled to Afghanistan.

“We will address the matter on a case-by-case basis, and the commission is already looking into such cases,” the minister added.

Justice Kayani asked the minister to visit the protesting families of the missing persons and address their concerns. Further hearing in this matter has been adjourned till Jan 10.

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2023

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