Islamabad High Court senior puisne judge Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani questioned on Wednesday whether self-accountability existed in intelligence agencies.

Justice Kayani was hearing a petition regarding the implementation of the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances.

“Is there any accountability in the agencies? Where is the accountability that can be seen?” he said.

Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan appeared before the court and submitted a report produced by the commission on a court order issued in January.

“It is clear that state courts will not protect any terrorist, but questions arise when there is an action beyond the law,” Justice Kayani said. “Human rights violations were identified in the petition. The court will see whether any action the police takes is legal.”

Lawyer Imaan Zainab Mazari — the counsel for one of the petitioners — said, “On the day the caretaker prime minister appeared before this court, a Baloch student was picked up.”

She added that the missing student was “released in Rawalpindi the next day”.

The judge said he was against the commission because “it is sitting and working with those who are accused.”

Justice Kayani added, “Institutions subordinate to the law are regulated. What is the regulation of those who act beyond the law?”

He further said that enforced disappearances “create hatred in those affected by them”, regardless of whether it is “a common man, a lawyer or a relative of a judge”.

The judge also said the federal government should approach the Ministry of Defence and ask it if there was a process of self-accountability within the agencies.

“Well, there may be mistakes while working, but that does not mean that they (agencies) are not accountable,” Justice Kayani added. “If there is a terrorist, issue a ticket and take action, but do not take extrajudicial action.”

Kayani said that agencies would follow the same laws as the Federal Investigation Agency and other institutions. “Every institution has to work within its authority,” he said. “Even the courts.”

There are “thousands of issues” when resolving any case according to the law, the judge said, giving the example of the family of a missing person. “There is a man in the house and his brother is missing. What is happening to his mother, sister and daughter?”

Justice Kayani asked the AGP about a committee formed to probe the disappearances which included the heads of the Inter Services Intelligence, Intelligence Bureau and Military Intelligence.

AGP Awan responded by saying that he had approached the Supreme Court regarding the committee.

“We have to solve this issue of missing persons,” Justice Kayani declared, adding, “If there is any objection regarding the formation of the committee, please give reasons to the court.

“The counsel for the petitioners is saying that on the same day the prime minister gave his statement here, a student was abducted. This shows that the prime minister’s statement has no validity,” the judge remarked.

The hearing was subsequently adjourned to May 21.

Law minister Azam Tarar had said a day ago that under the current tenure, directives were issued to restart work on the inquiry of enforced disappearances.

He had said that the prime minister also ordered that the committee be reconstituted to have a “parliamentary presence” in the committee.

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