Nothing against agencies, only against them operating extrajudicially: IHC

Court inquires about number of terrorism cases lodged against Baloch students during last ten years

Our Correspondent May 21, 2024
Islamabad High Court (IHC). PHOTO: Express/File


The Islamabad High Court (IHC) clarified on Tuesday that there was nothing against the intelligence agencies, only against them operating extrajudicially, adding that they should only play a supporting role for the investigative arm of law enforcement.

Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani, hearing the missing Baloch students case, stated that it would be beneficial if the intelligence agencies clarified their 'operational methods' and said a need exists to enhance the effectiveness of the police, counter-terrorism department (CTD), and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

"These are the three main investigative bodies; other agencies can assist them," said Justice Kiyani.

As the hearing commenced today, the court inquired about the number of terrorism cases lodged against Baloch students during the last ten years and asked how many were arrested, forcefully disappeared or harassed. 

The attorney general for Pakistan (AGP) presented the missing persons committee report and maintained that "intelligence agencies cannot harass any individual".

"No court, judge, lawyer, journalist, or parliamentarian is calling for stopping the agencies from working according to the law," Justice Kayani said while maintaining that they only advocate against "unlawful actions". 

The state counsel stated that the issue would remain unresolved unless addressed "politically". Acknowledging the same, Justice Kiyani stressed the need for dialogue to resolve the matter. 

The court then asked the counsel regarding claims that individuals are kept in custody by the agencies and inquired whether the sustenance expenses for these individuals are covered using government funds. 

Read SC seeks lasting fix for missing persons’ issue

"Are the funds available to the agencies audited?" asked Justice Kiyani.

The AGP informed the court that they have made significant progress in the cases of missing persons and requested additional time to address the remaining cases. 

He added that a political solution is also being sought and the issue will be discussed in the upcoming cabinet meetings. The judge acknowledged that many missing persons had returned home due to the AGP's efforts.

The counsel representing the missing students, Imaan Mazari, argued that the relatives of the students were being intimidated. 

Advocate Iman Mazari argued that the relatives of missing persons were being intimidated.

"As long as cases of missing persons continue to come up, the courts will continue to work," Justice Kayani added and said the issue cannot be resolved with a single order as it was a recurring issue. 

Commenting further regarding the media's role in the cases, Justice Kayani noted, "Sometimes, individuals who go missing from one corner of the country are found due to media coverage."

"The people of Balochistan are also Pakistanis; we should stand with them," he remarked.

The AGP also suggested that the court alter the missing persons committee by including personnel below the director general (DG) level to facilitate coordination.

"Failing to resolve this issue will lead to bigger problems," warned the judge.

The court instructed the submission questionnaire by the next hearing and adjourned the hearing until June 14.

Yesterday, the IHC 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 Shah.

Shah, a journalist and poet, went missing from his Islamabad home on May 14.

Meanwhile, on May 16, Justice Kayani proposed legislation to impose the death penalty on individuals found guilty of enforced disappearances in the country, emphasizing that accountability should apply to everyone, including himself.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ