The Peshawar High Court (PHC) put its foot down on Wednesday over enforced disappearances and summoned senior federal government and military officials to provide possible solutions to the longstanding problem.
While hearing cases filed by relatives of missing persons, PHC Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan observed that despite repeated warnings, authorities did not bother to comply with court orders and have become judge, jury and executioner all at once.
“Let’s see who is more authoritative, the court or someone else. We will issue an order to charge all agencies and their sector commanders. They are supposed to be court-martialled,” the chief justice remarked.
Notices were issued to the judge advocate general branch of the Pakistan Army’s General Headquarters, the attorney-general of Pakistan, human rights ministry, law and parliamentary affairs ministry and interior, defence, law and justice secretaries.
“[They must] draw a line between the good, bad, legal and illegal [by coming to court],” the chief justice said. The court also sought a reply from all respondents within seven days.
Observing that relatives of missing persons file habeas corpus petitions, accusing security forces and intelligence agencies of involvement in picking up their relatives and keeping them in illegal detention, the court has sought their assistance in resolving the thorny situation.
The chief justice also severely criticised the police for siding with security agencies when they raid houses and pick up people without arrest warrants issued by a court. He asked the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa police chief to explain the role of police in raiding homes without court orders.
“No man on earth would believe that security agencies do so without help from the police. The situation will remain the same until the police mend its ways. Tell us, we will resolve the issue and if we fail to do so, we will resign,” the chief justice said, adding that all law enforcers must act according to law.
Expressing serious concern over the matter, the chief justice said that it could result in “unpleasant” incidents between the public and law enforcement agencies.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2012.