The January 22 court orders on the missing persons’ cases may have given some relief to relatives, but only time will tell if the orders will be implemented. The Peshawar High Court has warned officials that it may pass another order, and this time, it can directly affect the military’s presence in the tribal areas.
If officials concerned fail to comply, the court will bar the military from staying in the tribal areas and the Action in Aid of Civil Power Regulations (AACPR) 2011, a law which allows the armed forces to operate in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, may have to be reconsidered.
“Let’s see what happens but I am hopeful that my brother will return, considering the assurance given by state lawyers,” said a Mardan resident leaving the courtroom.
During the hearing on January 22, the court gave the federal and provincial governments some room to breathe after lawyers assured that the issue will be resolved within 15 days.
The court has summoned top military, federal and provincial government officials on February 14 and has made it clear that it will not let the issue linger on any further.
The reasons stated by the court include the ‘constant denial to abide by court orders’ and the ‘incessant flow of habeas corpus petitions being filed at the PHC’ from people seeking the recovery of their missing relatives. They allege that they were taken by the police, security forces and spy agencies.
“If my brother is guilty of involvement in anti-state activities, he can be punished publically, but at least he should be identified,” the Mardan resident said.
Relatives standing outside the courtroom were hopeful considering the consequences for not complying with the order.
PHC Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan has already expressed reservations on the law, saying it is in violation of fundamental human rights in Fata.
Security forces entered Fata after the AACPR was signed by the president in June 23, 2008 allowing the military to launch an offensive against militants.
Officials summoned for the next hearing include federal defence and interior secretaries, the judge advocate general (JAG) GHQ, sector commanders for the Inter-Services Intelligence, commanding officers of Military Intelligence and Frontier Corps as well as inspector general police and CCPO of Peshawar.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 30th, 2013.
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