At least five people who were allegedly picked up by intelligence agencies have been tracked down in the last 10 days, Additional Attorney General Tariq Khokhar told the Supreme Court on Thursday in the case of ‘missing’ person Abid Sharif.
A two-judge bench of the apex court comprising Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and Justice Ejaz Afzal expressed concern that in many cases of enforced disappearance, the representatives of spy agencies denied their involvement but then go on to present them upon the court’s insistence.
AGGP Tariq Khokhar said that two ‘missing’ persons namely Atiqur Rehman and Khawar Mahmood, who are allegedly in the custody of spy agencies, have returned home and that three persons namely Hamad Aamir, Hafiz Muhammad Jamil and Hadaitullah have also been traced to internment centres.
Zahida, the spouse of Dr Abid Sharif who has been missing since September 16, 2005, said that Major Usman had informed her that her husband was in the custody of the FC and that it had handed him over to spy agencies, because the paramilitary force had no place to detain anyone.
Justice Saqib Nisar observed that rules of strict liability should be applied in cases of enforced disappearance.
He said that spy agencies could not be exonerated by denying the custody of ‘missing’ persons as they should investigate and clear their names from allegation. “The state must be benevolent,” he held.
Zahida said that her husband was working as a doctor in Taxila Headquarters and the commission on enforced disappearances had directed the Punjab health secretary to release his salary to his family. Instead of releasing his salary, the health department has issued a show cause notice regarding Dr Abid Sharif’s appearance and said that he would otherwise be sacked.
The bench expressed its annoyance over the actions of the health secretary Punjab and directed the additional advocate Punjab to look into the matter and submit a report in this regard on March 6.
Meanwhile, in Balochistan’s targeted killings case, the defence ministry submitted a report and told the top court that the army was not involved in any kind of operation in Balochistan. The case has been clubbed with the case of mass graves found in Khuzdar.
Defence Secretary Asif Yasin, along with AGGP Shah Khawar, appeared before the three-judge bench headed by Justice Nasirul Mulk and said that out of the eight ‘missing’ persons, two people namely Abdul Ghafar and Dr Din Muhammad Baloch were reportedly found in a militants’ camp in Kohlu district of Balochistan.
The other six persons were never in the custody of spy agencies, Shah Khawar said.
Regarding the alleged involvement of two army officers, he said that the army would proceed against persons under the Army Act 1952 if they were found guilty in the investigation.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2014.
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