Missing persons’ cases: IHC orders Interior Ministry to establish cell

ISLAMABAD (APP): The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday directed the Ministry of Interior to establish a cell for addressing the missing persons’ cases and adjourned the hearing till November 14.
Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard the case pertaining to the missing journalist Mudasir Naro and other persons. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif appeared in the court. Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb, Federal Minister for Law and Justice Azam Nazir Tarar and Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah accompanied him.
The prime minister assured the court that he would make all-out effort to resolve the missing persons issue. He was answerable to Allah Almighty and the people of Pakistan. During the course of proceedings, the chief justice remarked that it was the state’s responsibility to remove the sufferings of victim families. The court had summoned the prime minister because it was a very serious issue and being heard by the bench for several months.
He observed that the state’s response regarding the matter had not been upto the mark. A chief executive, who had ruled the country for nine years, proudly admitted in his book that he had “sold the citizens” to a foreign country. As per constitution, there could not be “a state within a state”, he added.
Justice Minallah said the matter was referred to the Federal Cabinet, which also formed a committee. It was not the matter of forming a committee only, but the court wanted to know what was the actual issue, he added. He said the commission on missing persons was set up, but its performance was disappointing.
The CJ said the disappearance of people was the biggest form of torture and the court had no other option but to ask the chief executive. Addressing the prime minister, he said he (PM) was working for the flood victims, but considering the importance of missing persons’ issue appeared before the court. The “forced disappearances” were a deviation from the constitution, he added.
He said there were many issues of governance and problems, which could only be resolved by acting upon the constitution in toto. The civilians were under the executive control and the court had confidence in him (PM) to address their issues. The chief justice said whom the court could hold accountable for the recovery of the father of a little boy, who approached it. The same child had also met the then prime minister. He (PM Shehbaz) should tell the court about the solution, he added.
Responding to the CJ’s queries, Shehbaz Sharif said it was his duty to appear before the court. The United Nations secretary general was in Pakistan and he had a meeting with him, but he had come to the court in compliance of its order. The PM said the missing journalist’s had desired to meet his father and that had disturbed him (Shehbaz). He would not leave any stone unturned to make the missing persons meet with their families, he assured.
He had gone to the jail twice in last four years and his family also suffered the pain, he added The PM said the committee formed on the issue had met six times, and he would submit its report to the court, which would be based on facts. He said implementation of the court orders was his prime responsibility. He visited flood-affected areas and met the victim people. It was his duty to listen to them and try to resolve their issues.
He said the missing persons issue had been persisting for almost last 20 years, and assured the court that he would fulfill his duty. He formed a cabinet committee in that regard soon after taking charge of the office. He said the committee members had met the families of missing persons in different areas, and he would submit their report to the court every month.
Shehbaz Sharif said he was a very simple person. He remained the chief minister of Punjab province also and tried to serve the nation. He could understand the pain and sufferings of the victim families, he added. He assured that he would personally monitor the matter and with the will of Allah, no person would remain missing.
Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar told the court that it was a 21-year-old issue and they could not claim that it could be resolved in 10 days. However, work was definitely being done to settle the matter, he added. The chief justice observed that it was shocking for the court when Amina Masood Janjua told it about the performance of inquiry commission on missing person. The government should make sure that no one approaches the court to complain about missing of some one, he added. The CJ said the matter should be taken up in the parliament for legislation. Other countries, including India, had already legislated on the issue. He warned that if the issue was not resolved then the court would hold the executive responsible. Later, the court adjourned the hearing on the request of ordered law minister.