Islamabad High Court (IHC) senior puisne judge Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani on Tuesday observed that intelligence agencies can only “assist” police and the Federal Investigation Agency with their investigations, as he sought clarity on the former’s “operational methods”.

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

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

Justice Kayani inquired how many people have been arrested, disappeared or harassed over the past 10 years.

“Intelligence agencies cannot harass anyone,” the AGP said.

To this, Justice Kayani replied saying: “It would be good if the working procedures of intelligence agencies was clarified.”

He noted that according to the law, the police and FIA can conduct investigations, while intelligence agencies can assist with the investigation. “We have to work within the jurisdiction of the law,” he said.

“No Pakistani, be it journalists or parliamentarians, is supporting terrorists,” Justice Kayani said. “No one prevents institutions from working according to the law.”

The AGP stated that until the issue is resolved politically, the matter will not be settled.

“So it is acknowledged then that this is a political issue. We don’t want to invite anyone from outside to solve the issue,” Justice Kayani remarked. “Mistakes happen, but one must learn from mistakes and move forward.”

The judge meted out praise for AGP Awan, noting that this was the twenty first hearing of the case and several missing students had been recovered thanks to the attorney general’s “hard work”.

“Due to his efforts, several missing persons have now reached home,” Justice Kayani noted.

Justice Kayani lightheartedly asked AGP Awan where to find people like him who find solutions to problems, to which the attorney general replied by saying that was a difficult question to answer.

Meanwhile, lawyer Imaan Zainab Mazari — who appeared as counsel for the missing Baloch students alongside Hadi Ali Chattha — said that relatives of the missing students were being threatened.

She noted that although a commission had been formed, no one had gone to meet the relatives of the missing students, adding that no progress had been made by the commission.

“Families of the missing students are not being provided any information,” advocate Mazari said.

Justice Kayani said that until cases of missing persons continue to come, the courts would continue to function. “There is no single case where you make an order and the matter is resolved.”

AGP Awan noted that the media should also lend their support to the courts so that negative points aren’t highlighted.

In response, Justice Kayani remarked that media is independent, and that the courts do their job when the media highlights issues of missing persons.

“Often times, if a person goes missing from one corner of the country, the media’s coverage helps recover that person,” the justice said.

“The people of Balochistan are also Pakistani, we must stand with them,” Justice Kayani stated.

The attorney general noted that the issue of missing persons will be taken up at the next two cabinet meetings.

Referring to a previous committee comprising the heads of the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), MI (Military Intelligence) and the IB (Intelligence Bureau), AGP Awan recommended that the committee be replaced with people below the director general (DG) level for easier coordination.

In conversation with the AGP and advocate Mazari, Justice Kayani said he would issue an order in this regard, which both of them could take a look at.

Subsequently, the hearing was adjourned till June 14.

Directs recovery of Kashmiri poet in 4 days

Justice Kayani also heard a petition seeking the recovery of Kashmiri poet Ahmed Farhad Shah and ordered AGP Awan to recover him in four days.

“Mr attorney general, we have high hopes from you,” Justice Kayani remarked.

AGP Awan submitted the defence secretary’s report and assured the court that poet would be recovered, saying, “I take full responsibility of Ahmed Farhad’s recovery.”

To this, the judge asked: “Are you taking the responsibility of Ahmed Farhad’s recovery on behalf of the state? Is your statement given with the advice of federal government?”

The AGP said that “I will try my best to use all resources and recover the abductee.”

The judge subsequently remarked: “You previously also made a claim in this court as well as the Supreme Court that no individual would be abducted from Islamabad. If this man is not found soon, it will be a failure of the state.”

The AGP requested the court to allow time for the poet’s recovery at which point Mazari said: “They always do this; they pick up someone and then say we do not have him.”

The judge asked the AGP for progress in the case in the past six days, adding: “This issue has put you into more trouble.”

The AGP replied that all available resources would be utilised to ensure the poet’s recovery.

Justice Kayani next called Superintendent of Police Jameel Zafar to the rostrum and asked, “Have you recorded the ISI sector commander’s statement?”

To this, the police officer replied: “I have not taken his statement; due to his absence I talked to his junior, who said that his report had been sent to the defence secretary.”

The judge told him that it was his job and only he would do it since it was the responsibility of the police.

Mazari raised questions on the defence sectary’s continued absence in court proceedings to which the AGP said the secretary was sick.

Justice Kayani subsequently said, “This matter needs to be resolved, bring the defence secretary at the next court hearing.”

Mazari subsequently asked: “What situation is Farhad currently in? How is he doing? This is a very serious issue. In Balochistan’s missing persons cases we often find their dismembered bodies,” to which the judge assured that nothing of the sort would happen in this case “as the attorney general has assured us”.

The judge then told AGP Awan, “Do not let things go amiss. Ask the state spokespersons to put their hands [of mercy] on this petitioner’s head.”

Ordering the AGP to recover the poet in four days, the court adjourned the hearing till Friday.

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