PESHAWAR: Spy agencies will now be required to submit an affidavit in court if they claim a ‘missing person’ is not in their custody. This is a first for the Peshawar High Court (PHC), which expressed disbelief in verbal statements of the authorities.
PHC Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel made this statement on July 23 when security agencies denied having in custody the relatives of 108 petitioners. The petitioners allege agencies had picked up their relatives and are keeping them illegally. Group Captain Irfan on behalf of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) submitted reports denying that the agencies had taken any relatives of the petitioners.
On their repeated denial, the PHC warned that criminal cases would be registered against intelligence officials in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and the tribal areas if missing persons are found in their custody.
Intelligence agencies, however, claim they never lie or hide information. Since they (missing persons) are not in our custody, they might have joined terrorist groups, officials from the federal defence and interior ministries were quoted as telling the court.
Since they have not been in contact with the missing, relatives hold agencies responsible and charge them for keeping their loved ones. Petitioners told the court they at least want to know if the missing persons are still alive.
“If they are really involved in anti-state activities, they should be dealt with in accordance with the law and spy agencies should at least inform me whether my son and grandsons are alive,” said Mastana Bibi from Orakzai Agency, who claims her son Zali Maan Shah and grandsons Shakil Khan and Rehmatullah have been in the custody of security agencies since 2011.
During the same hearing, security agencies also denied having Hafiz Gul Bacha, 23, in custody. Bacha’s brother, Noor, claims Hafiz was picked up from Tawas Banda in Mardan district during a raid on September 18, 2011.
“Where has he gone? He was picked up by security agencies and since then, we have not been able to talk to him,” Noor said, adding if his brother was involved in terror activities, he should be punished but at least be identified.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2013.
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