‘IHC castigates ISI in poet's abduction casee

Summons defense secretary along with a report at 3pm today

Fiaz Mehmood May 20, 2024
The case has sparked widespread outrage in the country, with many calling for the government to take action to recover Ahmed Farhad and hold those responsible accountable. PHOTO: FILE


The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday ordered the Islamabad Police to obtain a statement from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) sector commander and submit a report today (Tuesday) regarding the alleged enforced disappearance of poet Ahmed Farhad.

A single-member bench comprising IHC senior puisne judge Mohsin Akhtar Kayani also summoned the secretary of defense, ordering him to appear in person in court at 3 pm today and submit a report. The judge warned that in case of non-appearance, the court would issue arrest warrants.

The court issued these orders while hearing a petition filed by the wife of Ahmed Farhad, who was allegedly abducted last week. The judge noted that after filing a petition seeking Farhad's recovery, another application was filed to withdraw the earlier petition.

Imaan Mazari, the petitioner’s lawyer, told the court that on the night of Friday, May 17, the petitioner received a call from her husband's WhatsApp number.

"In the background, voices of two other individuals could be heard. These individuals said that if the petition was withdrawn, the poet would return on Saturday. They asked the petitioner to lie to the court that Ahmed Farhad was not kidnapped and had left of his own free will," Mazari added.

According to Mazari, the abductors have made repeated contacts with the petitioner, exerting considerable pressure on her to withdraw the petition. Imaan stated that the petitioner later shared three drafts of the proposed application for withdrawal of the case with the abductors.

"However, we have decided not to withdraw the petition now as Ahmed Farhad has not returned despite submitting a petition for withdrawal of the case," Mazari said.

Upon the court's order, representatives from the Ministry of Defense appeared before the court, stating that the abducted individual is not in the custody of the ISI.

They acknowledged that the ISI has been accused but denied these allegations.
Justice Kayani remarked that the matter has now gone beyond the jurisdiction of the ISI and the Military Intelligence (MI), as they have admitted their failure. He instructed the secretary of defense to submit a written report.

"This is not a simple case; a precedent needs to be set," the judge noted.
He added that alleged ISI officials are sending messages, while claiming the person is not in their custody. "The secretaries is to appear immediately, after which the prime minister will be summoned, followed by members of the federal cabinet."

Also read: IHC orders recovery of missing poet Ahmed Farhad Shah

Additional Attorney General Munawar Iqbal Duggal stated that a first information report (FIR) has been registered regarding the incident, and now the police are conducting an investigation.

Justice Kayani responded by asking if registering the FIR was some kind of favor. He criticized the law enforcement agencies for failing to recover the abducted citizen and questioned whether the country would be run by spy agencies or according to the law.

While ordering the investigation officer to obtain a statement from the ISI sector commander, the judge questioned his status. "What is his status? He is probably a grade-18 employee. Let him remain within his limits. Do not be subordinate to him; the country can function without them," he said.

The court questioned whether Ahmed Farhad was a terrorist, had come from India as a spy, or was involved in kidnapping for ransom, to which the SSP Operations replied in the negative.

Assistant Attorney General Usman Ghuman argued that the entire agency cannot be blamed. The court, however, noted that there is a need for a change in perception about the agencies.

The judge asserted that the police should be the face of the state, not unknown individuals. The court later adjourned till 3 pm today (Tuesday).

After the hearing, Munawar Iqbal Duggal informally spoke to the media, stating that the FIR registration shifts the case from illegal detention to abduction, with the police conducting the investigation.

He referenced the Shehnaz Bibi case, noting that the court had established that it would not interfere in the investigation, and further assistance would be provided to the court in this regard.

Law minister’s reaction

Reacting to the IHC proceedings, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar expressed surprise at the court's remarks in the poet abduction case, stating if the executive and parliament fulfill their responsibilities, they do not need to take directions from any external source.

Tarar noted that the relevant authorities had already informed the court about the registration of an FIR and various other steps taken in the case. He questioned the necessity and appropriateness of the court's mandate in summoning all the secretaries.

"Despite being informed about the registration of the FIR and various steps taken, stating that all secretaries should appear in court is not within the courts' mandate," Tarar asserted.


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