The Islamabad High Court’s (IHC) Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani on Thursday summoned a report from the defence secretary on the alleged role of state intelligence agencies in the abduction of Kashmiri poet and journalist Ahmed Farhad Shah.

Shah was allegedly abducted from his home a day ago. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan had called on the authorities for his immediate release.

A petition was filed by Shah’s wife in the IHC the same day, requesting that he be found and produced before the court and to identify, investigate and prosecute those responsible for his disappearance.

Justice Kayani had conducted the first hearing on the matter a day ago and ordered Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Jameel Zafar to retrieve Shah at any cost, warning that he would otherwise summon the defence secretary.

Shah’s wife was represented in court today by Advocates Imaan Zainab Mazari and Hadi Ali Chatha while SSP Zafar, Assistant Attorney General Usman Rasool Ghuman and other officials were also present.

The written order, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, said that the SSP informed the court that an investigation was under way for which a special investigation team was also constituted.

The SSP also said that geo-fencing was under way and CCTV footage of the incident was collected, after which multiple suspected vehicles were checked and letters were also issued to other law enforcement agencies.

“At this stage, learned counsel for petitioner contends that petitioner has specifically nominated Inter Services Intelligence in abduction …, therefore, secretary, Ministry of Defence is directed to submit concise report after seeking report from relevant quarters of Inter Services Intelligence, as well as from Military Intelligence, with an explanation as to how and under what circumstances the detenue has been kidnapped and abducted from Islamabad Capital Territory, on the next date of hearing,” the order reads.

The case was adjourned till Monday.

Politician Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar said he attended the hearing and was “glad to see the court taking a categorical position” on the matter.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi said, while asked about the matter during a press conference, that he had discussed the matter with the inspector general of police (IGP) and a search was already under way.

“They are searching and hopefully something will be worked out and found out.”

Today’s hearing

During the hearing, Justice Kayani asked the SSP whether he had ever received a “positive response” from institutions in investigations related to missing persons cases.

“Either you say that the agents of Raw (Indian intelligence) came and took away the man. Then I will accept it,” the judge said.

Justice Kayani further remarked that an investigation was not completed in any of the missing persons cases registered so far in the year.

“Shamefully, the whole nation knows who is doing what, the whole of Pakistan knows, including me, but we have closed our eyes,” he remarked.

“What a great system, the missing person can’t even come back and say anything. When the missing person turns up, he and his family are told to keep quiet.”

Justice Kayani opined that there should be legislation against enforced disappearances and that those involved in the practice “should be hanged”.

“The fact is, those who are critical of the state are missing, most of them being journalists and social activists,” the judge said.

“I am summoning the ISI sector commander [for Islamabad] and defence secretary in a personal capacity. If the secretary cannot ensure the recovery then I will summon ministers, and then the prime minister.”

He added that “if someone goes missing from the jurisdiction of the Islamabad High Court, the punishment will have to be borne by the IG.”

Justice Kayani also asked whether writing a letter to the security agencies would solve the problem.

The judge said the poet was picked up just for uttering a few things that had caused offence to some.

“People are insulted on social media all day, what will you do? Will you pick up everyone? If that doesn’t work for you, give me an alternative option.”

The judge warned that if Shah was not found, he would issue a show-cause case under contempt of court.

“I have full faith in the police. The face of the state is the police, no one else,” he said.

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