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‘98 of 254 missing people traced’

May 26, 2007

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ISLAMABAD, May 25: The Supreme Court was told on Friday that 98 missing people out of 254 had been traced and a majority of them had reached their homes. National Crisis Management Cell Deputy Director Col Javed Iqbal Lodhi informed a bench of the court that 93 people had been traced till the last hearing and five more had been traced since then.

Those traced since the last hearing are: Qari Abdul Rehman, Qari Saifullah Akhtar, Yasir Arafat and Qari Subhanallah, who have reached their homes; and Haji Daud Mengal, who is in the custody of the Karachi police.

The bench comprising Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar and Justice Falak Sher sought affidavits from the released persons to ascertain the details of their arrests, detention and the treatment meted out to them in custody.

It directed the government to speed up the process of locating and recovering the remaining missing people.

The court was hearing petitions of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and former Senator Farhatullah Babar for the recovery of missing persons and complaints of Amina Masood Janjua, Saqlain Mehdi, Aisha, Abdul Ghaffar, Amtul Hafiz, Fatima, Mohammad Ikram Alvi, Arif Abbasi, Syed Babar and many others.

In Qari Saifullah’s case, the petitioner’s counsel Hashmat Habib told the bench that his client had reached home after spending two years and nine months in detention.

He said his client had quoted intelligence agencies as saying that if they had not picked him up, there were chances that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) would have taken him away.

“The agencies, while releasing him, warned him to be careful saying that, otherwise, he would be picked up again,” the counsel said.

The bench directed the counsel to submit an affidavit of Qari Saifullah with the details of the episode.

About Faisal Faraz, Deputy Attorney-General Tariq Mahmood Khokar told the bench that an FIR had been registered at a police station in Lahore in compliance with the court’s order but the police were clueless about his whereabouts, despite contacting the Tableeghi Jamaat centres in Peshawar and Lahore. Mr Faraz's companion Masud Janjua could also not be traced, he said.

At this Mr Janjua’s wife Amina Masud told the bench that Maj-Gen Shafqaat of the army had told her father-in-law last year that her husband was alive and in custody. This disclosure is an admission to the fact that her husband was being held by intelligence authorities, she said.

The bench sought a report from the National Crisis Management Cell regarding Hafiz Abdul Basit, who had been handed over to the Military Intelligence by the Punjab police.

Punjab Police Assistant Sub-Inspector Iftikhar Hussain appeared before the bench and submitted a certificate about the handover. The bench directed the government to submit a report on the case with that of another missing man, Attiqur Rehman.

The bench directed the government to arrange meetings of his family with Imran Munir, who is facing court martial on charges of spying.

Mr Babar placed before the court 10 suggestions for addressing the issue of missing persons and streamlining the functioning of the state agencies.

The suggestions include, setting up of an institutional framework for controlling the agencies, making appropriate legislation, setting up a judicial commission, laying down of procedures for tracing the missing, signing of relevant international covenants and taking up of the Inter-Services Intelligence case that is pending since 1997.