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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Wednesday directed the Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mizari to ensure missing person’s family meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan.

A single bench of Chief Justice Athar Minallah issued the directions, while hearing a petition moved by Rana Muhammad Akram, father of missing person Mudassar Mehmood.

The IHC bench directed to ensure the meeting before the next hearing and added the matter shall thereafter be placed before the Federal Cabinet i.e. worthy prime minister and its members.

“The latter shall direct all the agencies under its control to produce the missing person before this Court or trace his whereabouts,” maintained the bench.

Justice Minallah also said that in case the missing person was not produced before that court nor his whereabouts were traced, then the Federal Cabinet shall ascertain the agencies and public functionaries responsible for the failure and inform that court regarding the action taken against them.

He added, “In case the missing person is not produced before this Court nor his whereabouts are traced before the next date then the Attorney General will appear and assist regarding the responsibility and liability of the Federal Government i.e. the worthy prime minister and members of the Cabinet.”

During the hearing, Shireen Mazari, Federal Minister for Human Rights and Yousuf Naseem Khokhar, Secretary, Ministry of Interior appeared before the court.

The court observed that it was an undeniable fact that the practice of enforced disappearances had existed in Pakistan over a considerable time. The existence of this phenomenon is intolerable in a society governed under the Constitution. “Enforced disappearances is indeed a crime against humanity and one of the most detestable manifestations of violation of fundamental rights guaranteed under the 1973 Constitution,” maintained the CJ.

The court stated Mudassar Mehmood was engaged in the profession of journalism. It has been asserted in the memorandum of petition that he was a social activist and human rights defender; he was receiving threats, allegedly from officials of the state institutions. He went missing on 19-08-2018. The relevant state functionaries did not respond in accordance with their constitutional obligations, the IHC order noted.

It further said, “The abysmal and insensitive reactions and attitudes of public functionaries towards the victims manifest the failure of the state to protect the fundamental rights of not only the Missing Person but his loved ones as well. It is, therefore, not unreasonable for the parents of the Missing Person to have reasons to believe that the state and its agencies may have been involved or complacent in the alleged abduction.”

“Perusal of the reports submitted by the respondents show that all the agencies under the control of the Federal Government i.e. the Military Intelligence, Inter-Services Intelligence, Federal Investigation Agency, etc. have taken the stance that they were neither involved nor have they any information regarding the whereabouts of the missing person,” added the court.

The IHC chief justice mentioned that the prolonged agonising proceedings before the Commission, reactions and attitudes of the state institutions and its functionaries are sufficient to have raised reasonable apprehensions in the minds of the loved ones of the missing person regarding involvement or complacency of the state and its agencies.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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