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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Missing persons: AGP tells Supreme Court about steps taken by body

Expressing displeasure over slow pace of progress to recover missing persons, Supreme Court on Wednesday asked federal secretary defence, chief secretary, home secretary, inspectors general police and Frontier Constabulary (FC) Balochistan to recover missing persons without further loss of time. 

Attorney-General for Pakistan (AGP) Irfan Qadir submitted a report to the court regarding measures taken by a committee formed by the then prime minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani. A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry expressed dissatisfaction over committee's report, saying that no practical steps were taken for the recovery of missing persons. According to Justice Chaudhry, missing persons are Pakistani citizens and it is the duty of the state to recover and produce them before the court of law. "This is not an excuse that they [missing persons] are terrorists or criminals...whatever they are they should be given a fair trial under the constitution," he added. 

Home Secretary Balochistan Naseemullah Bazai informed the court that Balochistan government had framed a policy to pay Rs 0.4 million to the relatives of a dead person, as compensation and district committees had been directed to complete formalities. Justice Chaudhry told him that it was a meagre amount and directed him to give at least Rs 1 million to the legal heirs of a missing person in case of death. He also said that the amount should be paid within three days. 

The court also directed Home Minister Balochistan Mir Zafarullah Zehri to appear before the court on July 09 for his alleged involvement in kidnapping of two men in the province. The court was informed that the provincial home minister was on bail for the last eight years. This news came as a shock to the court. The Chief Justice issued directives to Registrar Supreme Court to get report from the concerned session judge on grant of bail to an accused [Zehri] involved in several cases of kidnapping of innocent people. 

The bench noted that the Balochistan police were also involved in arrest and release of missing persons as it was found out that in disappearance of Naseer Ahmed and Akhtar Hussain. When the police were pressured, not only the missing persons were recovered but the police also found out their car parked at a desolate place. The interior secretary Balochistan complained that there was no check on issuance of SIMs by mobile phone companies. He claimed that he bought as many as 1435 activated SIMs from the open market, which was a violation of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) rules. The mobile phone companies were directed to submit a report regarding issuance of SIMs to PTA, with directives to PTA to take stern action against the violators of law. The hearing was adjourned till July 09. The next hearing would be held at Supreme Court Registry in Quetta. 


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