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KARACHI, July 11: The ministry of defence exercises only administrative control over Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) and it does not have any operational control or jurisdiction to enforce the court’s direction on these agencies, an official of the ministry informed the Sindh High Court on Tuesday.

The court was hearing six petitions against illegal detention of people belonging to political and religious organisations.

The detainees are Abdul Rauf Sassoli, Saleem Baloch, Saeed Brohi of Jamhoori Watan Party (missing since February-March, 2006), Munir Mengal, a director of Baloch Voice TV channel (missing since April), Mohammad Alim Tariq, Pesh Imam of a mosque in Gulshan-e-Hadeed area of Karachi (missing since December 2005) and Affan Leghari, an ex-IBA student (missing since October 2004).

Filing a comment on behalf of ISI and MI, which are under the administrative control of the defence ministry, Lt. Col. Khalid Iqbal Sahoo, Assistant Judge Advocate General of the Pakistan Army, stated that ministry could only pass on every direction received from the court to the said agencies for strict compliance and their replies were submitted before the court.

He said the agencies were asked to locate and produce the said detainees before the court and they reiterated that the said detainees were neither apprehended nor wanted in any case nor were held in their custody. He added that no trace of the detainees had so far been found.

The defence ministry official submitted that the task of locating and recovering missing persons did not fall within their purview and they did not have the mandate for the ground-check in such cases.

However, the court was assured that as and when any information regarding the whereabouts of the detainees came into their knowledge, it would be submitted before the court.

A letter was also placed by the provincial law officer submitting that Sindh police had constituted a special team, consisting of experienced and selected officers under the supervision of Additional IG (investigation) along with CCPO Karachi, Additional IGP RPPOs, Hyderabad and Sukkur, and DIG CID as members to make all possible efforts to find the whereabouts of the detainees.

It said special teams were also constituted at district and towns levels to look for the missing persons and the intelligence units working under Sindh police had also been alerted to trace them. SHC’s division bench comprising Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali and Justice Mohammad Afzal Soomro adjourned the matter for July 19 and directed the respondents’ counsel to file para-wise comments on the petitions.—PPI