Missing persons not held by army, but in K-P jails: Khawaja Asif

Defence Minister says the individuals are being kept at 43 different locations in K-P.


Web Desk December 05, 2013
Defence Minister says the individuals are being kept at 43 different locations in K-P.

ISLAMABAD: Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said on Thursday that the impression of the army holding  'missing persons' captive was wrong and that these people were actually imprisoned in different jails across Khyber Pukhtunkhwa, Express News reported.

Asif was speaking to the media after a meeting with the Prime Minister, following today's hearing at the Supreme Court, where the government failed to present the 30 remaining missing persons to the judges.

The court has given the government one more day to present the individuals.

The Defence Minister said he had begun investigating the 'missing persons' matter as soon he assumed the mantle of Defence Minister, and had discovered that the missing persons were not with the military but in 43 different jails across Khyber Pukhtunkhwa that fell under the jurisdiction of the provincial government.

A three-member bench heard the case in Islamabad under the supervision of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

Frontier Corps (FC) Inspector General Major General Mohammed Ijaz Shahid was issued a contempt of court notice as he did not attend the hearing today even after being summoned to court several times. Allegations in the missing persons’ cases, directly or indirectly, have lead to either the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) or FC.

According to FC sources, FC IG Shahid could not attend the hearing as he was admitted to a hospital on November 29 because of his heart problem.

During the hearing the Defence Minister Khawaja Asif requested to have an in camera hearing as all the information regarding the missing persons could not be revealed at the court.

The chief justice turned down the request for an in camera hearing and had ordered that the missing persons be produced in court by 4pm.

Chief Justice Chaudhry also stated that from the first day the court was not respected with regards to its decisions concerning the missing persons case.

Later during the hearing, the defence minister promised the court that he had spoken to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and that he would relay good news regarding the missing persons case to the registrar the following day.

In response, the chief justice said that the registrar is not a judicial officer and the good news should be shared directly with the court.

Speaking to the media after the hearing, Khawaja Asif reiterated that he will give good news soon and acknowledged the gravity of the missing persons problem in Pakistan.

"It was not logistically possible to produce the missing persons in court today but we will try to present them in court tomorrow or provide some form of assurance to the court that they have been located," he said.

The hearing has been adjourned and will resume on Friday.

Missing persons case

On December 3, the Supreme Court had asked the government to either present missing persons before the court or provide concrete details about their whereabouts today.

The court had earlier given one-hour deadline to the government, however, this was extended as defence authorities failed to produce the missing persons.

Earlier during the hearing, the defence ministry’s additional secretary had informed the court about the whereabouts of three more missing persons and requested the bench to keep the identity of two persons a complete secret as their lives might be under a threat. The secretary had added that the government is working hard to trace all the missing persons. The chief justice had dismissed the defence secretary’s move to provide details of just three missing persons in court as “peanuts”.

“Don’t give us this lollypop. The prime minister and army chief are bound to follow this court’s orders. We are not sitting idle here,” the top judge had said, adding that no one can circumvent an order to give details to the apex court.

During December 2’s proceedings, Attorney General Munir A Malik had informed the court that two of the 35 missing persons had died in custody. The chief justice had ordered that a case be filed for the death of the two missing persons. Cases should also be registered against the people who have taken the missing persons into custody, Chief Justice Chaudhry had further added.

COMMENTS (16)

Dq | 8 years ago | Reply

@Kaleem: But what about those jokers who have been missing for years??

Life and safety of any innocent citizen including these should have priority over any issues that army may have with the govt.

Its high time that these 'locked horns' of the pak army are chopped off and civilian supremacy over the armed forces reigns supreme...

Xnain | 8 years ago | Reply

@Javaid Randhawa: What if tomorrow some guy picks you up on your way out and then detains you, tortures you or even God forbid kill by labeling that you're acting against the country and your parents don't even know where you are? how would that feel. Denial to judicial proceedure is a bigger crime than releasing the so called terrorist. If agencies can't produce any evidence in the court then on what basis they picked the missing persons in the first place?

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