Missing persons: What’s the progress, asks the judge

Around 30 cases brought before court but adjourned due to lack of updates.

Tooba Masood February 18, 2014
Gone missing: 130 of the over 700 missing persons’ cases in Pakistan are being heard at the Sindh High Court. CREATIVE COMMONS


A man stood in front of the bench and called out case numbers. Lawyers, petitioners, policemen kept filing forward as the hawaldaar called out their names. Another one was trying to get those standing outside the court to remain quiet.

The first five cases heard by the Sindh High Court division bench, comprising justices Sajjad Ali Shah and Naimatullah Phulpoto, on Tuesday were dealt with quickly and then the missing persons’ cases started. There are more than 700 missing persons in Pakistan and cases of 130 are being heard at SHC.

The bench wanted to know what progress had been made in the 30 odd cases presented to them before 1:30pm on Tuesday. But, due to a lack of progress and response from federal institutions, the bench had to adjourn most cases to March 4 and the rest to March 11.

“Mr Salahuddin, what is the issue here,” asked Justice Shah, when Hakimullah vs the federation of Pakistan was brought to the bench. The issue, as advocate Salahuddin explained, was over the jurisdiction of the court and if it extended to the location of the missing person. The court and lawyers referred to an earlier decision made on March 27 last year and the case was adjourned to March 4.

In the case that followed, Fatima vs the federation of Pakistan, the judge asked the DAG to find out if the name was on the missing persons’ list and asked the secretary to find it out.

In another case, Zia Iqbal vs the federation of Pakistan, advocate Illyas Khan said that they had found two, three clues from someone who was released in Lahore.

The police who was present for this case said that the missing person’s wife did not cooperate with them. The advocate said that the family did cooperate but sometimes the police was a little too intense.

Salahuddin Ahmed was present in front of the bench again for Summaya Musaddiq vs the federation of Pakistan.

The bench was told that the person is yet to be found and the family believed he had been picked up by intelligence agencies. The bench asked for a detailed report and adjourned the case till March 4.

The parents of Faisal, another missing person, were present at the court on Tuesday. The judge saw their misery and told the advocate to do something to help them. Faisal’s mother said that after he was picked up, the family received calls from his abductors but when they gave statements against them to the authorities, the calls stopped coming. His mother informed the court that her son had just given his Intermediate examinations. This case was adjourned till March 4.

The 14th case heard on Tuesday was about a man identified as Sarfaraz, who also went missing. His wife brought one of the two children to court and waited for the advocate to give updates to the judge. However, there were no replies from the intelligence agencies.

One of the most gut-wrenching cases of the day was Naseeruddin, a 23-year-old boy who went missing.His father informed the bench that his son had no political affiliations was still picked up and killed.

When his body was found, the father said that there were knife cuts on his hands, marks of rope around his wrist and his entire body was riddled with bullets.

The judge asked the DAG for an autopsy report but they did not have one. Justice Shah asked for a detailed report and adjourned the case to March 11.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 19th, 2014.


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