ISLAMABAD, June 6: The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered that a man handed over to the Military Intelligence by Faisalabad police in 2004 be produced in court. The Faisalabad police deputy inspector-general had admitted before the court that Hafiz Abdul Basit had been arrested by police in January 2004 but after recording his statement he was handed over to Capt Amir of the MI.
A Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar and Justice Falak Sher has taken up petitions of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and former senator Farhatullah Babar and complaints of Amina Masood Janjua, Saqlain Mehdi, Aisha, Abdul Ghaffar, Amtul Hafiz, Fatima, Mohammad Ikram Alvi, Arif Abbasi, Syed Babar and others for the recovery of ‘missing’ persons.
On Wednesday, Mr Basit’s uncle Hafiz Abdul Nasir submitted an affidavit stating that he had also been taken away by armymen to put pressure on the ‘detainee’. He claimed that he had found Mr Basit in critical condition.
However, National Crisis Management Cell (NCMC) Director Col Javed Iqbal Lodhi insisted that the cell had no information about Mr Basit.
Justice Javed Iqbal ordered that either Mr Basit be produced in the court or the authorities concerned rebut the claim on oath.
Deputy Attorney-General Tariq Mehmood Khokhar informed the court that four more missing men had been traced. Sher Ahmed Khan and Mohammad Jan had been found in the custody of Dera Ismail Khan police for their alleged involvement in a bomb blast case, while Afzal Dilbar and Shabbir Tararau had reached their homes.In the list of 254 missing people, 102 had been located, while 152 were yet to be traced, he said.
Justice Javed Iqbal assured the families that the case would be taken to its logical conclusion and legal action would be taken against those responsible, regardless of their official status.
“No one is above the law. Legal action will be taken irrespective of who is who. And what I am saying, I mean it. If someone feels that he is above the law, he is committing a mistake. Let your superior know that we are very serious about this case,” Justice Javed Iqbal observed while giving directions to the NCMC representative.
The judge asked the NCMC director under which law had the people been picked up, detained and then released.
“There are a number of statutory laws to proceed against any person. Why don’t you adopt those provisions,” the judge said. First the government denied the custody of a person and later he was found in its custody, he observed.
“I receive 10 to 15 letters of complaints daily, mostly from Balochistan, regarding enforced disappearances,” the judge said.
The court took suo motu notice of fresh ‘disappearances’ of Shah Zain Bugti, grandson of the late Baloch leader Akbar Bugti; Ghulam Qadir and Khan Mohammad. The latter two were picked up from Gaddap in Karachi on April 16, while Ali Asghar Menagalzai was taken away from Quetta.
The case of a 12-year-old girl, Sherry, whose father Abdul Wahid is reported to have been picked up by intelligence agencies from Makran on March 14, will also be taken up during the next hearing on June 20.
Advocate Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui told the court that most cases of disappearances belonged to Balochistan. Even the district nazim of Dera Bugti had been picked up, he said.
Former senator Babar urged the court to obtain affidavits from the heads of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the MI about the missing persons.
Advocate Dr Babar Awan said the federal information minister, interior minister and the ISPR director-general had confirmed the arrest of a wanted man, Naeem Noor Khan, but he was still in the category of ‘missing’ persons and his whereabouts were not known.
Justice Javed Iqbal assured the families of the missing persons that action would be taken at the inspector-general and secretary level, and constables or SHOs would not be made scapegoat.
Amina Janjua filed an affidavit, stating that five released men told her that they had seen her husband Masood Janjua in different detention cells of the ISI, including the army-run 501 Workshop in Rawalpindi cantonment. The court directed the DAG to verify the contents of the affidavit and submit a report, with the observation that “the 501 Workshop is not out of the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.”