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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC), Tuesday, summoned Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar to appear before the court in person on February 19 in a petition seeking recovery of missing Baloch students.

A single-judge bench of Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani heard the case related to the implementation of the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances and a petition seeking recovery of missing Baloch students.

During the hearing, Assistant Attorney General (AAG) Usman Ghumman said that one missing student had been recovered and requested the court to postpone the hearing due to the attorney general’s unavailability.

However, Justice Kayani expressed his displeasure at the failure of the government in the recovery of the missing persons and said that the punishment for enforced disappearances should be the death penalty.

He remarked that usually death penalty is awarded once but in these cases, the punishment should be given twice. He added that he was summoning the caretaker prime minister for now and would later also issue directives for the incoming premier to appear before the court.

At this, the AAG said that the government needed more time in the case. He further stated that another Baloch missing student had been recovered.

Justice Kayani said that he was being “generous” in not summoning the director generals of the Military Intelligence and the Inter-Services Intelligence and rejected the AAG’s plea. He also said that PM Kakar must appear in person on Monday at 10 am, and explain why we should not register a case against him.

The commission was established in 2011 to trace missing persons and fix responsibility on the individuals or organisations responsible for it. In November last year, the IHC had warned that a case could be registered against the interim premier and others if they failed to reunite the missing Baloch students with their families.

Previously, the judge had also observed that the enforced disappearance takes place because the state institutions do not believe in the rule of law and emphasized on prosecution of intelligence agencies’ officials allegedly involved in it.

He further said that the trials of terrorists are held in anti-terrorism courts and if it is forbidden to hold the trial of Baloch extremists in the same courts? He also asked the federal government to restore the anti-terrorism courts in Balochistan to hold trials of the accused and added that the petitioners seeking recovery of missing Baloch students did not want to protect terrorists.

Justice Kayani said the concept of missing persons is only found in Pakistan and not in other countries. He also expressed his concerns about the well-being of recovered persons. He said that no missing Baloch person had ever come before me after recovery…I do not know if the recovered people are fine or not?

Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Awan informed the court that the Commission shared a list of 68 Baloch missing students and now, there are only 15 missing persons left. He added that they needed two more months to recover the remaining missing persons.

Justice Kayani said that enforced disappearances are a reality and it is the responsibility of the prime minister to ensure his subordinate agencies work within the ambit of law.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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