Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah. — IHC website

‘Is there a state operating within a state?’ asks IHC CJ

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Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah. — IHC website

ISLAMABAD: Who is responsible for enforced disappearances of people and is there a “state operating within the state”, Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah asked Friday.

Justice Minallah’s questions came during the hearing relating to the disappearance of journalist Muadassir Naro and five other people, where the deputy attorney-general appeared before the court.

The IHC chief justice asked the deputy attorney-general that in the court’s previous order, the relevant authorities were asked to produce the disappeared people. “Where are they?”

At this, the deputy attorney-general told the IHC that the federal government has constituted a committee for the missing persons and the relevant investigation agencies are employing efforts to recover them.

“Don’t involve this court in the matters of committees. Tell me whether you will implement the [orders] or not? Where is the federal government?” the justice asked.

The IHC CJ said people are being picked up every day and nothing is being done about it.

He added that in the previous order, the court asked the federal government to issue notices to ex-president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf and the prime ministers succeeding him.

“Where are the notices and their affidavits?” he asked.

In the order issued last month, the IHC directed the federal government to serve notices to Musharraf and all other successors — the former prime ministers, including the incumbent holder of the office.

The IHC CJ noted that the matter of missing persons was “gravely serious” and the “attitude of the federal government was not commendable”. He asked whether the constituted committee holds meetings.

Justice Minallah said if the court’s order continues to go unheard, then the incumbent interior minister and the former interior ministers will be summoned. The IHC CJ went on to say how would it feel like if the court summons the chief executive — the prime minister.

IHC’s top judge said that all the governments were violating their oath when the matter of missing persons should be among the top priorities for the national leadership.

In response to the IHC CJ, the deputy attorney-general said in the next hearing, the government’s stance would be presented as to what it is doing for the recovery of missing persons.

“No efforts are being employed for the recovery of missing persons,” the IHC chief justice lamented. He added that although just for show, the federal cabinet constituted a committee for the missing person, what efforts have they employed so far.

The IHC CJ asked who should be held responsible for the missing persons and questioned whether there was a “state operating within a state”.

“There are allegations levelled against the police, Intelligence Bureau (IB), the intelligence agencies of armed forces. There are several missing persons, tell me, which of these agencies has picked them up?”

The IHC CJ said the prime minister should either say that he is helpless and if he is not, then the Constitution of Pakistan will hold him responsible.

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