In an unusual order, the Supreme Court on Friday directed the country’s powerful intelligence agencies to present seven prisoners, who went missing from Adiala Jail, before the court by 5pm the same day.
Not surprisingly, however, the court, along with the families of the missing persons present on the day, was left waiting. Not only were the prisoners not produced, the counsel for the Inter-Services Intelligence and the Military Intelligence, Raja Muhammad Irshad, also failed to appear before the court, later in the day.
The court adjourned the hearing, before issuing a strong order to the ISI and MI chief, and the defence secretary to produce the missing prisoners safely before the court on February 13 and file a compliance report with the Registrar Office.
“Our order has not been complied with. The missing prisoners are in custody of the intelligence agencies,” said Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
Earlier on Friday, Irshad presented a letter to the court, which entailed the details of the prisoners’ medical condition, stating that they could not be moved out of the hospital.
“Bring them (the patients) in helicopters, if they cannot be brought in cars,” was the chief justice’s response.
He added that if the prime minister of Pakistan could be summoned to the court for not complying orders, it does not leave room for anyone else to not obey court orders.
The court in its order stated that four detainees – Dr Niaz Ahmad, Abdul Maajid, Gulroze and Abdul Basit – reportedly admitted in the Lady Reading Hospital Peshawar and three – Mazharul Haq, Shafiqur Rahman and Muhammad Shafique – who are stated to be in the Internment Centre, Parachinar, were not produced.
At the 5pm hearing, the attorney general informed the court that at around 3.30 pm, counsel Irshad had informed him that the detainees in Parachinar could not be brought to Islamabad owing to the long distance, and added that the prisoners in Peshawar will present together with the ones in Parachinar.
Eleven civilian suspects had been facing a court martial under the Army Act on charges of attacking the General Headquarters (GHQ) and ISI’s Hamza Camp base.
They were picked up from Adiala Jail by intelligence agencies after they had been acquitted of charges by the court.
Four of the 11 detainees – Muhammad Amir, Tahseenullah, Said Arab and Abdul Saboor – died in the custody of the ISI and MI. According to counsel Irshad, they died under ‘natural causes’.
“Right now, we want to see the surviving prisoners. Later, we will investigate the circumstances in which four prisoners died and also fix responsibility,” the chief justice stated on Friday.
“…We are of the opinion that it is the responsibility of Director General, ISI, Director General, MI and Judge Advocate General, JAG Branch, to comply with the order of the Court in letter and spirit. Non-appearance of their counsel also suggests that reluctance is being shown in producing the detainees before the Court,” the bench said.
The bench also asked the attorneys of the ISI and MI to explain why the patients were admitted in hospitals located outside Islamabad when there are enough hospitals in the city.
Justice Tariq Parvez observed that the whole world felt the gravity of the case, while the institutions in Pakistan “have done nothing about it so far.”
The court also summoned the defence secretary and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa chief secretary in person at the next date of hearing.
The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa governor has been directed to present a report through the provincial chief secretary on the condition of the prisoners who are hospitalised in Peshawar and Parachinar.
DSP Peshawar Imtiaz Ahmad appeared before the court and stated that he had no knowledge of the admission/detention of the four above named persons in the LRH.
(Read: The Romulus principle?)
Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2012.
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Let us see if SC notices Issue to Pahsa for appearing before SC
Delighted with SC and CJP's vigour and interest in missing persons' cases. This is just a tip of the iceberg as reports from Baluchistan and elsewhere indicate. Security agencies must be reined in; they cannot operate as a "sate within state".