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PM, cabinet members responsible for recovery of missing persons: IHC CJ

Updated 01 Dec, 2021
The court instructed the federal government to satisfy the family of missing journalist and blogger Mudasir Naro. File Photo
The court instructed the federal government to satisfy the family of missing journalist and blogger Mudasir Naro. File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday remarked that the prime minister and the federal cabinet are responsible for the recovery of missing persons.

The court instructed the federal government to satisfy the family of missing journalist and blogger Mudasir Naro.

The court also sought opinion from Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari regarding payment of compensation to the victim's family from the pocket of the then chief executive of the country.

Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari, Secretary Interior Naseem Khokhar, lawyer of the concerned family Usman Warraich, Additional Attorney General Qasim Wadood and Deputy Attorney General Syed Tayyab Shah appeared before the bench.

At the outset of hearing, Chief Justice Athar Minallah asked the minister that this court had summoned her because of the seriousness of the issue. Disappearance of someone was a criminal act, he said, adding that the cabinet and ministers were here to serve the nation.

"The state is like a mother, but it is no where to be seen," the court observed.

Justice Minallah said that if a person comes to court stating that a loved one has disappeared, it means that the state has failed.

For someone to have been kidnapped at the behest of the state is a extremely grave crime, Justice Minallah said.

The court remarked that non-state actors also have a hand in enforced disappearances. "Someone will have to be held responsible," it noted.

"Half of our lives were spent with non-democratic governments in power," Justice Minallah said.

Minister for Human Right Dr. Shireen Mazari told the bench that this government had introduced legislation to stop such activities as it was in manifesto of her party. The matter would be sent to upper house soon, she added.

She said that Prime Minister Imran Khan had very clear stance on the issue. The chief justice asked that what would be the reaction of the state if a relative of a public office holder went missing.

The court observed that it was told that the wife of the missing citizen had died. The chief justice said all law enforcement agencies were under the control of federal government, adding that it was not a matter of summaries or reports.

The court asked the minister that it was the responsibility of the government to look after the children and satisfy the other family members of the missing person.

The chief justice asked the minister to take the concerned family to the cabinet and to the Prime Minister.

The minister said that the Prime Minister would hear the family but firstly we wanted to complete the process of payment of compensation, adding that the government admits the forced disappearance a serious crime.

The court asked that why not the compensation should be paid from the pockets of cabinet members instead of the state. If someone went missing in 2002 then the chief executive of that time should be held responsible, Justice Minallah said, adding that anyone would have to take responsibility of it.

Shireen Mazari said the former governments had taken no steps to stop such practice but the incumbent government was taking measures against forced disappearance.

Additional Attorney General requested the court to grant one week more time. At this the court adjourned hearing of the case till December 13.