Irked by no progress in the missing persons’ cases, the Supreme Court summoned top government officials to appear before the court today (Tuesday) and explain the allegations levelled against the country’s security agencies.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry on Monday summoned the defence secretary, interior secretary, principal secretaries of the prime minister and the governor of Balochistan.
The Supreme Court Treasury Bench Quetta, while hearing cases pertaining to the deteriorating law and order situation in Balochistan, expressed grave concern on the lack of progress in the cases of missing persons. It observed that while everyone was blaming the security forces, evidence did exist against them.
“The defence secretary, interior secretary, principal secretaries of the prime minister and the governor of Balochistan should be prepared before appearing in court,” the chief justice told the advocate general (AG) of Balochistan.
The apex court also expressed dissatisfaction on the report submitted by the provincial government on the existing law and order situation of Balochistan.
“There has been no progress in the missing persons’ cases and the situation is the same when we left Quetta after the last hearing,” the chief justice remarked.
Justice Chaudhry contended that the court could summon the governor of the province and ask him about the complete constitutional breakdown of the province.
AG Amanullah Kanrani informed the court that 16 missing persons were in official custody of the federal security agencies. “Whatever information you have regarding missing persons, share it with the court because we will issue the order tomorrow (Tuesday). The report submitted by the provincial government does not show any significant progress.”
The court was informed that Abdul Zakir, who went missing on December 2010 from Mastung, had been recovered while two more persons gone missing from Marwar had also been recovered. As many as 25 people have so far surfaced but the police have failed to establish who kidnapped them and where they had been kept for so long, the chief Justice said.
DSP Amir Dasti said that most of the missing persons were either in Afghanistan receiving training or hiding in the hills in Balochistan. “I raided a house of a lawyer whose son is missing. The mother told me that her son is in Afghanistan,” he said.
Dasti was also asked to show progress in the case of Shabir Sumalani, a boy in his early teens. “Shabir is the younger brother of a Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) target killer,” he told the court.
He said police lacked the weapons and equipment to deal with target killers. “Two of my guards were killed recently and I am also on top of the hit-list of the LeJ. Members of LeJ, the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) and other groups have sophisticated weapons while we still have the fifty-year-old shotguns and pistols.”
The chief justice also directed the customs collector, excise department and chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to take action against all unregistered vehicles and motorcycles in Balochistan.
“Under the Customs Act, unregistered vehicles and motorbikes are not allowed to ply the roads but in Quetta there are showrooms of non-duty paid vehicles in front of the customs office,” the bench observed.
The court gave a 15-day deadline to the institutions concerned.
Kidnapping for ransom
Referring to kidnapping for ransom incidents, Home Secretary Naseebullah Bazai informed the court that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and various other service providers were not cooperating with authorities to trace culprits and kidnappers.
The bench directed the director of the PTA to appear before the court today.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2012.