Adiala missing prisoners’ case: After a heart-wrenching sight, SC wants answers

Published: February 14, 2012

Policemen escort men, seen draped in a shawl, after an appearance at the Supreme Court in Islamabad. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: 

Everyone in the jam-packed courtroom number 1 was dumbfounded when authorities escorted them inside — each of the seven surviving detainees holding urine bags in their hands.

Frail, weak, unable to talk and walk properly, the physical condition of the once missing prisoners – brought before the Supreme Court on Monday by the country’s top spy agencies – seemed abysmal.

Four of his fellow detainees have already died in custody.

As the prisoners appeared before Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry – more than a year and a half after being picked up – he ordered a full medical examination. The Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) last month handed over the men to the custody of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government, after the Supreme Court took up the case.

“These people have been languishing in torture cells for over one and a half years,” Advocate Tariq Asad told the court, adding that, during confinement, the prisoners were not exposed to sunlight which deteriorated their health.

Resuming the Adiala missing prisoners’ case, the apex court sought written explanations from the ISI and MI chiefs, Judge Advocate General (JAG) and K-P Chief Secretary Ghulam Dastagir Khan regarding the details about the prisoners and why they were not presented on the court’s earlier order.

Six-year-old son of prisoner Mazharul Haq hysterically sobbed upon seeing his father after almost two years.

“I have severe pain in my chest, my shoulders are itching. I am still shocked and unwell,” another detainee told AFP.

Meanwhile, the court told the K-P chief secretary to submit a comprehensive report entailing the details of the detention and a medical board report of the detainees within four days, while the JAG, MI and ISI were told to submit their reports on March 1.

The court directed the ISI and MI chiefs to satisfy the court as to how they had held the 11 prisoners, what sort of trial was conducted, how they dealt with them and why their health conditions were deteriorating.

“My son was kept in Parachinar in an open room where temperatures were below zero degrees,” one of the detainees’ mothers told The Express Tribune.

The chief justice then inquired about the prisoners and asked where they were before January 26. K-P chief secretary replied he did not have any knowledge regarding the whereabouts of the prisoners.

The chief justice criticised his statement and said, “A provincial chief secretary should be aware of everything that happens in the province.”

“A medical board shall be constituted to examine their health.”

Counsel of the prisoners Advocate Asad informed the court that three out of the seven prisoners were suffering from kidney failure, while the rest had been diagnosed with other chronic diseases.

Defence of Human Rights Chairperson Amina Janjua prayed to the court to order the release of all the missing persons currently detained  in the country’s jails. Meanwhile, the court ordered that prisoners will now remain under provincial administration and not the ISI or MI.

The three-member bench, headed by the chief justice, had served notices to the ISI and MI chiefs on January 25 to explain the circumstances behind the deaths of the four prisoners.

The 11 accused had been facing a court martial under the Army Act on charges of attacking General Pervez Musharraf, the General Headquarters and ISI’s Hamza Camp base. They were picked up from the Adiala Jail by intelligence agencies after they had been acquitted of the charges by the court.

Four of the 11 detainees died in the custody of the ISI and MI, according to one of the detainees.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2012.

Reader Comments (30)

  • Dr Khan
    Feb 14, 2012 - 10:21AM

    Musharraf should be tried for crimes against humanity! I repeat! When will his never ending list of atrocities and crimes like above come to an end? With every passing moment, more and more of his crimes against Pakistanis have been unfurled, how much more pain and suffering is this man responsible for?

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  • MK
    Feb 14, 2012 - 10:22AM

    Simply Inhumane,

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  • Junaid
    Feb 14, 2012 - 10:23AM

    Call me inhuman but we have reached to that point in our lives where its clear that its either going to be these terrorists or us….Drawing lines doesent matter any more,if these were known terrorists,whisk them away i’l happily look the other way without caring a bit.But the grusome part of it what bothers me is we’l never know how mnay innocents were exploited/dumped/tortured for god knows what gains..In Nations history,this is the savagest we can get and we have to live with it as these are all the wrong choices we made.

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  • Kafka
    Feb 14, 2012 - 10:39AM

    An eye opener for the detractors of the CJP. This has happened for the first time that the court has been able to put pressure on the intelligence agencies……… with some effect. We should all rally behind the brave CJ.

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  • Siddiki
    Feb 14, 2012 - 10:51AM

    If they were culprit, no sympathies, but after 18 months of brutal torture, they couldn’t prove it. Spy Agencies need to be shown the limits now.

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  • abdul
    Feb 14, 2012 - 10:55AM

    This is a brutal act.This is the reason that we lost East Pakistan.

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  • Muhammad Azam
    Feb 14, 2012 - 10:55AM

    People of this country will never be free unless we bring our agencies under the rule of law.

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  • Goraya Sb
    Feb 14, 2012 - 11:28AM

    Army Chief is answerable on this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Mohan
    Feb 14, 2012 - 11:43AM

    Hope Pakistanis see what is happening to them under militeray rule.

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  • Umer
    Feb 14, 2012 - 11:56AM

    @Kafka:

    An eye opener for the detractors of
    the CJP

    SC is prepared to send the PM to prison but does not have the guts to even call in the generals. What an eye opener.

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  • Danish
    Feb 14, 2012 - 12:26PM

    “An eye for an eye, a teeth for a teeth, and blood for blood”.

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  • MAD
    Feb 14, 2012 - 12:27PM

    Now no one will appreciate the courts stance here.

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  • Kafka
    Feb 14, 2012 - 12:56PM

    @Umer: With respect, in case of missing persons, the SC has made progress, we should acknowledge that. This a small step but in the right direction. Be neutral in case of the PM as well. If Pakistani courts are corrupt and partial, the Swiss Courts are not, so why is the Government not writing to them? If the cases the are falseRecommend

  • kazim
    Feb 14, 2012 - 1:45PM

    A group of extremists pick up a civilian, tortures him and ends with a bullet in his head. This was the recent scene all over Karachi. What the Intelligence Agencies are doing is no different.

    18 months of brutal torture can destroy a guy and turn him against his own will no matter who he is. Imagine the lives of these guys IF they are innocent, how will they react ? how will their families respond ?

    Our agencies are giving birth to militants by this mean.

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  • Vigilant
    Feb 14, 2012 - 1:51PM

    Good move by SC….

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  • Umar
    Feb 14, 2012 - 2:26PM

    Whatever Army does, is allright. Havent they killed so many terrorists? Havent they sacrificed for beloved country Pakistan? Havent they brought peace in Swat? Havent they are under attack for last many years by terrorists in the name of Islam?

    unfortunatel, our courts can see contempt by PM but they are unwilling to see 70 killings by Malik Ishaq. huh.

    Pakistan zindabad, People of Pakistan zindabad, Army zindabad, Parliament zindabad, Terrorists (wheter they are called muslims or jews or hindus or christians) murdabad.

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  • Feb 14, 2012 - 2:33PM

    The so-called democracy, and safeguarding the system not to be derail , does not mean that they are against directorship but to protect their robberies and corruption.
    how shameful this is that Govt.trying to Time brat of the Swiss courts and thus not return the stolen money of nation.
    again they claim of elected govt. all the previous govt.were elected through 40 million bogus votes.The time has come now to account the leaders who had been as an agent of CIA and other foreign hands.

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  • Imran
    Feb 14, 2012 - 3:29PM

    With the low conviction rate of our law courts all terrorists go free and end up killing innocent people. its unfortunate but if we stop our agencies from catching and holding them , nothing else is in thier way to do whatever they want. The terrorists will rule then.Recommend

  • butt jee
    Feb 14, 2012 - 4:43PM

    There have been thousands of incidents of terrorism in which thousands innocent Pakistani men, women and children were killed. Not a single terrorist has been punished during the last !0 years only because the witnesses in these cases started receiving threats and ultimately they turned hostile in the courts. Now if the intelligence agencies are convinced about the involvement of a person and they are holding him till some punitive action could be taken against them then all of us have started having sympathies with them. In Iran they have hanged the terrorist through summary disposals within one week of their arrest. In Pakistan we have such a tedious law of evidence that it is next to impossible to punish a terrorist. We must accept that the trial of terrorists is not a normal routine legal affair. While the terrorists brutally kill the security forces personnel and innocent civilians in streets, mosques and shopping areas, there is no harm if they are also some times treated in the same manner. I am sure the intelligence agency people do not have any personal enmity with any of the detainees. The sole purpose of their actions good or bad, is to make our and families lives safe and worth living. Let us not be too emotional about this episode and let the intelligence agency do its work without any external pressure.

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  • Patriot
    Feb 14, 2012 - 6:01PM

    Need to see both sides of the picture.

    Unfortunately in Pakistan the criminals are at an advantage, and hardly get convicted due to lack of evidence achieved by instilling fear into the witnesses and even the judges of the court. The ready examples are killing of Punjab Governer Salman Taseer and cold blooded murder of innocent civilians in shersahah Khabarhi market, Karachi over collection of extortion money, still nobody has been punished/convicted. The incidents of GHQ attack, Assasination attempt, etc by the militant outfits are for real, somebody did carry out these attack. These criminals are ruthless, involved in dacoties, sucide bombs, murder of many innocent people, mostly poor and having nothing to do with the policy making of the country, and I dont have any sympathies for them.

    The greatest danger facing our country at the moment is lawlessness, the senior judicary should also be as concerned toward the problem of lack of conviction, maybe due to weak legal system or inefficent people handling it. Even in USA when threatened with attack by terriorists, they made lot of changes to their previous paradigm.

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  • Coolbreeze
    Feb 14, 2012 - 7:23PM

    Pity on this society, where terrorist are being projected as victims and heroes: Courts never convicted any terrorist ; it need courage. Now trying to stop Intel Agencies for acting against these enemies of humanity (Cheap popularity desire will lead to disaster)….God help this country

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  • Feb 14, 2012 - 8:03PM

    @Coolbreeze:

    I 100% agree with you.

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  • mind control
    Feb 14, 2012 - 8:44PM

    If the Court is so sympathetic to some ‘illegal detainees’ after just 18 months of detention, why is the Court not sympathetic to someone else who has suffered more than 10 years of ‘illegal detention’?

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  • minority
    Feb 15, 2012 - 12:26AM

    Very humbly I submit, our CJ always look for opportunities to get fame. These people were acquitted and then taking away right infront of adiala Jail, so CJ need 18months to gather courage against agencies? Why on one news ticket our famous SC take suo moto action and need 18months to take notice of such detainees?

    Every citizen deserve fair justice, so getting humanely treatment and due process of law is ur right, no one can deny. And yea our prosecutors and govt need some courage and bravery to fight cases against them instead of merely whinning that we can not do anything, we are scared. Laslty, those enthusiats who are so willing to do jihad against own brothers and army should also keep in mind, jihad isn’t like fighting in bollywood movie. When you give someone a blow then be ready to face such harsh tests as well. Jannat aint that easy to get, you wana do jihad then face hardships as well. And also keep in mind you also killed a human being who is related to some one in this world.

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  • minority
    Feb 15, 2012 - 12:33AM

    Yess our CJ and SC have done a great job,but don’t you think we should also witness another remarkable step taken by this SC in this life time. i.e. Calling DG ISI and army chief in court just like PM was called? And question them regarding their illegal acts? Above all using interpol get mushraf bak in Pakistan?

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  • Usman
    Feb 15, 2012 - 5:09AM

    We shouldd first understand why these conditions are there in pakistan in the first place.
    ISI and MI has created these so called terrorist groups, gave them training, weapons and money to florish as there assets. Same like they have created another asset haqqani for afghanistan.
    World has changed we cannot keep on fighting with every one and the army needs to understand. They never ever let pakistan to change from security state. Because that does not suite them. Even though it is in the best interest of pakistan. But who really cares for pakistan. They care for themself only and that has been proven over the last 60 years.
    So expect nothing good from military until they have to pay the price for every thing they have done wrong.
    To heck with these blood suckers who has been molding and twisting the history of pakistan for what they like best. Enough is enough , just one generals faults paid by 40000 pakistanis life? what kind of country are we? we are living in jungle where there is only one rule. The rule of military.

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  • Andrew
    Feb 15, 2012 - 1:14PM

    @Coolbreeze:.Khalid Masood

    If any one has any proof Why they got freed by court ???

    Poor Pakistani people Just ask the Highhandness to be stopped. Who ordered them to be picked-up and under what legal or moral law Someone is authorize for such an act?

    They ( Agencies) pick-up innocent people blind folded and Head covered with no Proof and they are denied any contact with outside world.

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  • s shah
    Feb 17, 2012 - 1:59AM

    I condemn terrorism and extremism with every fibre of my being but there is no substitute for the judicial process in convicting terrorists Extra judicial processes and torture as used by the agencies is immoral and counterproductive. What if these people were innocent? One cannot assume guilt and even the guilty should not be tortured if the state wants to retain moral authority. The condition of these detainees is shocking. The agencies need to be reined in and made accountable to civilians!

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  • Imtiaz
    Feb 17, 2012 - 6:08AM

    I often wonder about the fate of the rulers of this country when they will be presented before Allah. They have completely forgotten that they are responsible for them, according to the Islamic injunctions. It is an irony that the country is named as an Islamic Republic and there appears to be no respect for neither Islam nor Republic. I am quite sure that if they remember Allah, or believe truly in Allah, and believe in the accountability of hereafter, they would lose their sleep at the abysmal state of affairs. Allah will hold all such people who claim to be from the believers, and yet have no respect for His commandments, at a much higher standard of accountability because in reality this is a true form of blasphemy. May Allah guide these people and have mercy on all, sitting peacefully in the comforts of our own homes because this happens to others is not going to absolve us all from our individual responsibility to the society on the whole.

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  • Rutaba Ashraf
    Feb 23, 2012 - 2:41PM

    A heart wrenching sight.This is extremely brutal either they are culprit or not but that is the only sight of the picture . That is why Chief Justice didn’t release them they are suspected to attack our defence authorities. Realising them at one swoop is not even justice or wisdom. But whatever they did or may be not, MI and ISI are accountable for these outrageous acts even if they’re proved to be the culprits.

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