PM Shehbaz vows to reunite families

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IHC gives govt two months in missing persons case

The Islamabad High Court provided the federal government with two months for taking measures to ensure that missing persons are recovered.

“No official has done their job […] we will hold everyone responsible if another missing persons case is filed in this court,” IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah said while hearing a case of missing persons, including journalist Mudassar Naro.

During the hearing, the court not only summoned the prime minister, but Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar also appeared before the Islamabad High Court.

The law minister requested more time and sought at least two months to resolve the issue after which Chief Justice Athar Minallah adjourned the hearing till November 14.

At the outset of the hearing, Chief Justice Athar Minallah told PM Shehbaz that the court has troubled him as the case is about a major issue. The chief justice remarked that the state is not responding as per its responsibility.

“A chief executive ruled this country for nine years. He proudly wrote in his book that he sold his people abroad,” Chief Justice Minallah said. It seems like it was probably the “state’s policy”, he said.

“The court considered it appropriate to tell you [premier] what the issue actually is.The commission was formed to address the issue of missing persons but the proceedings were hurtful,” the chief justice said.

He said that the things Amina Masood Janjua told about the Commission’s conduct are extremely painful and intolerable.

Chief Justice Athar Minallah expressed annoyance that no work was done despite continuous assurances and the formation of committees by the authorities.

“There are detention centres from where people have been recovered but no action was taken,” he said. He said that the state is responsible for redressing the sufferings of missing persons’ [families].

“The state is not helpless. It is the state’s responsibility if someone goes missing. Disappearing citizens is equal to breaching the Constitution,” the Chief Justice said. He said that the chief executive of the province or the Centre, wherever a person goes missing from, is responsible.

The Chief Justice said enforced disappearances are a deviation from the Constitution. “Otherwise, you’ll have to say that the Constitution is not in its original form,” he said.

He said that the prime minister has the national security of Pakistan in his hands and the problems of this country will be resolved when the Constitution is fully restored.

Meanwhile, PM Shehbaz Sharif said that it was his duty to respond to the court’s summons and appear before it.

“The child [son of a missing person] requested me to reunite him with his father. This sentence of the child was extremely worrisome for me therefore I will not waste a single chance to fulfill my responsibility,” the premier said while assuring the court of making efforts to reunite missing persons with their families.

Informing the court about the progress of the committee formed for the recovery of missing persons, PM Shehbaz Sharif said that the committee has held six meetings. He promised the court that he will present a report before it for every meeting.

Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar then asked the court if he could speak about a few matters.

In response, the Chief Justice said that he does not want to hear that the government has formed a committee and is probing the case. “I am telling you, no missing persons case should be filed again in this court”.

The Chief Justice told the law minister and prime minister that he wants all the previous missing persons cases to be resolved as his court was still getting complaints.

“This is an issue dating back 20-21 years, it will not be resolved within 10 days,” the law minister told the court. The Chief Justice then asked why Baloch students were being profiled based on their ethnicity.

The law minister then said a permanent solution to the issue was dialogue. The Chief Justice said that even personnel from the Federal Investigation Agency pick them up.

Tarar said that there are five to six reasons for this, at which the court said that it was the responsibility of the government to address them.

Chief Justice Minallah said that if the constitution is violated, everyone involved is responsible and in case a person goes missing in future, it would be tantamount to breaking the Constitution.

 

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