Islamabad High Court: Disappearances is a heinous crime

Islamabad, Pakistan:  

Chief Justice Athar Minallah during the Thursday hearing remarked that prima facie the commission has failed to discharge its duties. “We have repeatedly said the enforced disappearances are a heinous crime and a sheer violation of the fundamental rights laid down in the Constitution,” he added.

On behalf of the petitioners in the cases of enforced disappearances, Imaan Mazari, an advocate and also the daughter of Pakistan’s former human rights minister Shireen Mazari, appeared before the court.

The registrar of the Commission of Enquiry on Enforced Disappearances adopted before the court that the commission had placed Zahid Amin, who had been missing for the last eight years, in the category of enforced disappearances in the light of the Joint Investigation Team’s (JIT) report.

“Does the commission issue production orders only for formal proceedings?” the IHC chief justice inquired from the registrar of the commission. “Why are you not providing relevant information to the petitioners? You should reach out to the petitioners yourself,” the court said.

“The commission is not treating the families of the missing persons properly. You should visit their houses,” the court expressed displeasure. “When were the production orders issued? What is the date?” IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah inquired from the registrar of the commission.

“The production orders of Zahid Amin were issued on September 14, 2020,” stated Imaan Mazari, lawyer for the petitioners.

“Did you forget to issue the production orders? Those, who were ordered to issue the production orders, did they refuse?” the court questioned the registrar.

“No one refused,” the registrar of the commission replied. “Did you order an action against them for not complying with the production orders?” the court questioned further. “You issued production orders on September 14, 2020. You might have seen something in the prime facie,” the court pointed out. “Don’t embarrass yourself. Could there be a bigger issue of human rights violation?” the court added. The further hearing of the case was adjourned till July 4.

The issue of forced disappearance in Pakistan originated during the Musharraf era (1999 to 2008), but the practice continued during subsequent governments.

Human rights activists allege that the law enforcement agencies in Pakistan are responsible for the cases of forced disappearance in Pakistan.

Enforced disappearances are used as a tool by Pakistani authorities to terrorize people who question the all-powerful army establishment of the country, or seek individual or social rights. Cases of enforced disappearances have been majorly recorded in the Balochistan and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces of the country which host active separatist movements.

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