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Missing person case: IHC questions ‘state within a state’

"Who is responsible for the enforced disappearances of people? Is there a state operating within the state," says IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah.

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Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday assailed the federal government for not implementing its directive for the recovery of missing persons and wondered whether there was a “state operating within the state.”

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah warned that the court could summon the country’s chief executive for an explanation during the hearing of identical petitions seeking the recovery of missing persons, including journalist Mudassir Naro.

The IHC chief justice directed the Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Khawaja Imtiaz to read out the court’s May 25 order and asked the relevant authorities to produce the disappeared people. “Where are they?”

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According to The News, “At this, the deputy attorney-general told the IHC that the federal government had constituted a committee for the missing persons and relevant investigation agencies were making efforts to recover them.”

“Don’t involve this court in the matters of committees. Tell me whether you will implement the [orders] or not? Where is the federal government?” he asked.

“The IHC CJ said people are being picked up every day and nothing is being done about it.”

Reading out the court order, DAG Imtiaz said the court had directed the federal government to serve notices to ex-president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf and all successive prime ministers, including Imran Khan and Shehbaz Sharif, for following an “undeclared tacit approval of the policy regarding enforced disappearances.”

“Where are the notices and their affidavits?” he asked.

In the order issued last month, “the IHC CJ noted that the matter of missing persons was gravely serious and the attitude of the federal government was not commendable. He asked whether the constituted committee holds meetings,” Dawn reported.

The News stated, “Justice Minallah said if the court’s order continues to go unheard, then the incumbent interior minister and former interior ministers will be summoned. The IHC CJ went on to say how would it feel if the court summons the chief executive, the prime minister.”

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“The IHC’s top judge said that all the governments were violating their oath when the matter of missing persons should be among the top priorities of the national leadership.”

“The IHC CJ asked who should be held responsible for the missing persons and questioned whether a state was operating within a state.”

“There are allegations levelled against the police, Intelligence Bureau (IB), the intelligence agencies of armed forces. There are several missing persons, tell me, which of these agencies has picked them up?”

“The IHC CJ said the prime minister should either say that he was helpless and if he was not, then the Constitution of Pakistan will hold him responsible.”

The court adjourned further hearing till July 4.

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