After long denying having anything to do with the disappearance of 11 acquitted persons from Adiyala jail, the top spy agencies of the country have now admitted that the men are indeed in their custody.
During the hearing of a case in this regard on Thursday in the Supreme Court, they alleged that the 11 men were involved in terrorist activities.
The relatives of the 11 missing persons claimed that the intelligence agencies had picked them up from the premises of the Adiyala Jail, an accusation that the agencies still deny. A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, was hearing the case regarding disappearance of the accused from Adiyala Jail after their acquittal by the court.
In a surprising development, Raja Muhammad Irshad – counsel for the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, the Military Intelligence agency and the Intelligence Bureau – admitted before the court that the 11 people are in the custody of these agencies and are being investigated. He said that the accused had been detained under the Army Act.
Irshad said that the men are suspected of involvement in various terrorist acts, including the suicide attack that killed the former surgeon-general of the Pakistan Army Lt-Gen Mushtaq Baig, the attack on the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi, Hamza Camp and the Kamra complex.
The missing prisoners are Dr Niaz Ahmed, Mazharul Haq, Shafiqur Rehman, Mohammad Aamir, Syed Abdul Majid, Abdul Basit, Syed Abdul Saboor, Shafique Ahmed, Saeed Arab, Gulroze and Tehseenullah. They have been missing from the Adiala Jail since May 28, after they were released.
Irshad said that initially, these men were not in the custody of intelligence agencies and, after they were released, they surrendered themselves to people posing as intelligence officials. These people were taking the prisoners to an area where the army was conducting an operation against militants.
The army arrested 20 people in that area and these 11 were among the arrests made. Hence, he pleaded, the intelligence agencies did not pick them up from the Adiyala Jail, rather they were arrested from the tribal areas.
Earlier, the men were acquitted in four terrorism cases by a trial court, including charges under the Explosive Substance Act in April this year.
They were arrested for a rocket attack on Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra; firing anti-aircraft missile at a plane carrying former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf and carrying out suicide attacks on the bus of an intelligence agency in Rawalpindi and the main entrance of the GHQ.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2010.