Ahmed Farhad Shah with his brother Syed Imran Shah, spouse Syeda Ain Naqvi and son at Saddar Police Station, Muzaffarabad on Wednesday.—Dawn
Ahmed Farhad Shah with his brother Syed Imran Shah, spouse Syeda Ain Naqvi and son at Saddar Police Station, Muzaffarabad on Wednesday.—Dawn

ISLAMABAD / MUZAFFARABAD: The government on Wednesday revealed the whereabouts of “missing” poet Ahmed Farhad Shah, informing the Islamabad High Court that he had been arrested by the Azad Jammu and Kashmir police and was being kept at the Dhirkot Police Station following the registration of an FIR.

The poet’s family met him at a police station in Muzaf­farabad at around 9pm.

The disclosure by the government before the court pushed the questions framed by the IHC about the functions of spy agencies into a grey area.

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani, while hearing the petition seeking the recovery of Mr Shah last week had framed 12 questions mostly related to the functions and obligations of spy agencies i.e. Inter-Services Intelli­gence, Military Intelligence and the Intelligence Bureau.

IHC judge dispels impression of rift between judiciary, other institutions; minister suggests appraisal of spy agencies’ functions be deferred

Also, the court had summoned the sector commanders of spy agencies, the de­­fence secretary and law minister among other officials.

Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, the attorney general for Pakistan, and the inspector general of police, Islam­abad, were in attendance when the hearing started.

AGP Mansoor Usman Awan informed the judge that Mr Shah was in the custody of AJK Police. He said Mr Shah had been arrested under Section 186 of the Azad Penal Code — the AJK version of the Pakistan Penal Code. A copy of the FIR was presented to the judge.

Justice Kayani directed the investigation officer to contact the police station concerned and seek the report.

During Wednesday’s proceedings, Justice Kayani dispelled the impression that there was any rift between the judiciary and other institutions.

He said those who petitioned against the ‘high-handedness’ of the spy agencies were not against the armed forces, adding that actions by a few black sheep were discrediting the institution.

However, when the judge said the court would inquire from the sector commanders about the legal framework of the spy agencies, Law Minister Tarar suggested that the issue might be taken up some other time.

He said the government had introduced a law and put a penalty on the disclosure of the identity of security officials as some of them came under attack after their identity was disclosed.

He agreed with the judge’s remarks that a few officials could tarnish the army’s image.

During the last hearing, the court had ordered live streaming of cases involving enforced disappearances. However, the hearing of Mr Shah’s case was not broadcast.

Charges against poet

In AJK’s Bagh district, a police station claimed that Ahmed Farhad Shah had been taken into custody at a check post and booked for “obstructing the discharge of official functions”.

Mr Shah’s family was told that he had been handed over to a police station in Muzaffarabad, where he had been booked on various other charges.

Mr Shah went missing on May 15 after allegedly being abducted from his home in Islamabad. A petition was filed by his wife in the IHC the same day against his disappearance.

The FIR was purported to have been lodged by the Dhirkot police at 8am on Wednesday on head constable Shaukat’s report. The complainant alleged that when he intercepted a white Suzuki van (RIF 4308) at Gujjar Kohala police check post and asked for the driver’s CNIC, another man in the vehicle became abusive and stated they cannot conduct checking.

The man introduced himself as Ahmed Farhad Shah, who was travelling to Kehna Mohri village near Bagh from Islamabad, added the FIR.

However, when the brother and wife of Mr Shah reached the Dhirkot police, they were told that he had been handed over to Muzaffarabad’s Saddar Police Station SHO Manzar Hussain Chughtai under FIR number 205/24.

SSP Muzaffarabad Yaseen Baig confirmed that Mr Shah had been given in to the Saddar police, where he faced various sections of APC, Telegraph Act, and the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

The SSP said police had produced Mr Shah before a magistrate, who remanded him in their custody for three days.

Later, the poet’s family members, including his wife, met him at the Saddar Police Station and he appeared to be in good health.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2024

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