Judge calls it Gestapo-like reign of terror

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court declared on Wednesday the term of “missing persons” applied to all people picked up by intelligence agencies.

“Missing persons are only those who have been picked up by intelligence agencies as we cannot include every case of ransom, abduction or enmity into the category of missing persons,” observed Justice Javed Iqbal, head of a three-judge bench hearing the missing person cases on petitions filed by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Defence of Human Rights and the Human Rights Network.

The bench, which includes Justice Raja Fayyaz and Justice Mohammad Sair Ali, summoned the Inspector General of Frontier Constabulary and Major Ibrahim next week to explain how Mustafa Azam, an accused in the Hayatabad (Peshawar) bombing, went missing after he dad been arrested his involvement in the blast but released within an hour.

The Supreme Court also wanted to know why names of brigadiers or majors always surfaced whenever cases of missing persons were taken up for hearing. Who had given them the right, it asked, to pick up individuals at will?

“There is a reign of terror like Gestapo and anyone can just barge into someone’s house to pick anyone,” Justice Raja Fayyaz said.

The court would be satisfied even if one person was recovered and the anxiety of one family was addressed, Justice Iqbal observed.

Mr Azam, father of Mustafa Azam who has been missing since 2006 from Sindh, informed the court that Major Ibrahim of the FC admitted that his son had been picked up for his involvement in the Hayatabad blast, but released after an hour.

Since then, he added, he had gone to several prisons and met many people, but had not been able to trace his son.

The working of the FC had no semblance of the law, the court said, adding that the FC had no right to arrest or detain any person.

The court asked the FC to carry out what assigned to it under the law and said that its interference in civilian matters should not exceed the directives given to it.

“What kind of democracy is this where there is no respect for human rights,” Justice Iqbal said, adding that the entire system was on the verge of collapse, but there was always a hue and cry whenever there was an intervention by the court.

HRCP chairperson Asma Jehangir told the court that 31 people, including a Norwegian, Ehsanullah Arjumandi, had been picked up from Balochistan after the installation of the PPP government.

Justice Iqbal said he had seen the record of Mr Arjumandi who in fact belonged to Iran and even his relatives had claimed that he used to travel on counterfeit Pakistani identity card.

“From where you have derived the authenticity that he was picked up by security agencies,” the court asked and deplored that in dozens of cases intelligence agencies had denied that the person in question was in their custody.

“We have written statement of the driver of the bus from which Mr Arjumandi was picked and even the Norwegian embassy had acknowledged that the accused was a Norwegian national of Irani origin,” Ms Jehangir said.

She demanded the setting up of a commission to look into the issue of missing persons in Balochistan and to proceed against those responsible. She also called for payment of compensation to the victims.

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