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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) made it clear that nothing is against the agencies and only against those who are operating extra-judicially.

A single bench of Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani made the remarks while hearing the missing Baloch students’ case on Tuesday.

He remarked that they should only play a supporting role for the investigative arm of law enforcement as the intelligence agencies can only assist police and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) with their investigations. The judge also sought clarity on the agencies’ operational methods.

Justice Kayani said it would be beneficial if the intelligence agencies clarified their operational methods. He also said a need exists to enhance the effectiveness of the police, counter-terrorism department (CTD), and the FIA. The judge maintained that these are the three main investigative bodies; other agencies can assist them.

At the onset of the hearing, the IHC bench asked about the number of terrorism cases lodged against Baloch students during the last 10 years and asked how many were arrested, forcefully disappeared or harassed.

The attorney general for Pakistan (AGP) presented the missing persons committee report and maintained that intelligence agencies cannot harass any individual.

Justice Kayani remarked that no court, judge, lawyer, journalist, or parliamentarian is calling for stopping the agencies from working according to the law and maintained that they only advocate against unlawful actions.

The state counsel stated that the issue would remain unresolved unless addressed politically. Acknowledging the same, Justice Kayani stressed the need for dialogue to resolve the matter.

The court then asked the counsel regarding claims that individuals are kept in custody by the agencies and inquired whether the sustenance expenses for these individuals are covered using government funds.

The AGP informed the court that they have made significant progress in the cases of missing persons and requested additional time to address the remaining cases. He emphasised that a political solution is also being sought and the issue will be discussed in the upcoming cabinet meetings. The judge acknowledged that many missing persons had returned home due to the AGP’s efforts.

Imaan Mazari, the counsel representing the missing students, argued that the relatives of the students were being intimidated.

Justice Kayani said that as long as cases of missing persons continue to come up, the courts will continue to work. He added that the issue cannot be resolved with a single order as it was a recurring issue.

Commenting on the media’s role in the cases, Justice Kayani said that sometimes, individuals who go missing from one corner of the country are found due to media coverage. He stated that the people of Balochistan are also Pakistanis; we should stand with them.

The AGP also suggested that the court alter the missing persons committee by including personnel below the director general (DG) level to facilitate coordination.

The judge said that failing to resolve this issue would lead to bigger problems. Later, the IHC bench deferred the hearing of the case till June 14.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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