SC rolls up its sleeves in missing persons’ case

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ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court on Friday decided to hear the missing persons’ cases on a day-to-day basis from Thursday to take the matter to its logical end, besides giving another chance to intelligence agencies to furnish details of the missing persons.
A four-member bench comprising Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Raja Fayyaz Ahmed, Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali and Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said the case of each missing person would be heard separately. The court said a full day would be fixed to only hear the cases of those persons who went missing during the Lal Masjid operation. During the hearing, Justice Iqbal observed that the number of missing persons was increasing day by day.
He said the Judicial Commission’s report gave solid evidence about the involvement of secret agencies and police in disappearances, which could be utilised to determine which officials were involved in enforced disappearances. Defence Secretary Lt Gen (r) Athar Ali suggested the court form a high-level commission having the authority to summon any official.
But the court rejected the suggestion saying that now the court would deal with the matter on its own. The defence secretary assured the court that all the agencies would submit their replies in the missing persons’ case, adding that it was not only important to recover the missing persons but also who had picked them up.
He said agencies had cooperated with the judicial commission, resulting in the recovery of 96 missing persons.Interior Secretary Qamar Zaman told the court that it was earlier said that the number of missing persons was over 80,000, but later it was revealed that the actual number of missing persons was about 400. He said out of these 400 missing persons, 98 had been traced.
He said separate categories of missing persons were being made to determine who was in the custody of agencies and who was in the custody of police. Zaman said there were over 100 Pakistanis lying in jails of Thailand. He said 10 of those, who have come back, were also being treated as missing persons.
Additional Attorney General KK Agha said the Judicial Commission had also suggested legislation to bring the actions of secret agencies in the ambit of law.