Missing persons case — another view
Supreme Court is hearing the case of abduction of 11 persons; Raja Irshad Ahmed advocate is defending the agencies ISI and MI in the apex court. According to press reports, four of them have died in the custody of agencies, but Raja Irshad said that they died in Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar, which is under administrative control of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government. “It has yet to be determined whether they were hospitalised too ill to survive or expired due to doctors negligence,” he said, adding he would submit a report during next hearing”. They were suspected terrorists who were arrested on charges of an attack on former president General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, attacks on Kamra and Hamza Camps, GHQ. Suicide jackets, weapons and hand grenades were recovered from them, yet they were acquitted by an Anti-Terrorist Court. According to press reports, they were not released and picked up by the intelligence agencies from Adiyala jail. They were picked up by their accomplices under the guise of intelligence agencies following their release and taken to FATA.
During their stay in FATA, the suspects developed some serious diseases, and necessary treatment was provided to them in CMH and Lady Reading Hospital Peshawar. According to sources, despite best treatment efforts, 4 of them died on different dates in Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar. The bodies were handed over to the families through hospital authorities. It was ensured that the bodies were dispatched with full respect. Every family was asked for autopsy. Two families refused autopsy and gave affidavit in this regard, but the other two families refused autopsy and also refused to sign the affidavit. Anyhow, they all died natural death and nowhere it was mentioned that they died due to torture or poisoning as alleged in the writ petition and highlighted in the media campaign against Army/ISI. Keeping in view the linkages of suspects with terrorist groups in FATA, suspects were interned under “Action in Aid of Civil Power Regulation 2011 for FATA/PATA. Following the orders of Supreme Court of Pakistan, meetings of the suspects with the families were arranged and facilitated even under the extremely dangerous security environments in KPK/FATA.
The security top echelons complain for the holes in the existing anti-terrorism law, as a result of which terrorism suspects go scot-free from courts and then continue with bloodletting of the innocent people and members of the security forces. Thus the thugs have been slaughtering our innocent citizens, including children and women in terrorist attacks on markets, shopping plazas, school children buses and places of worship. These merchants of death and destruction have been targeting our sensitive security assets, including the army GHQ, and the ISI, navy and air force establishments. Anyhow, many accused are released because of lack of evidence, and out of fear due to lack of adequate security for witnesses and judges. In a case of two missing students, the Peshawar High Court on Wednesday observed that most missing person cases would have been solved had police provided it with proper information on them. During the hearing into cases of some missing persons, a bench comprising Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan and Justice Mian Fasihul Mulk regretted that the relevant police officials often concealed facts and didn’t cooperate with it.
“If you are scared of someone, you should provide the information on a small piece of paper instead of telling us it openly,” the chief justice observed in a case when a police official expressed ignorance about the whereabouts of a victim of alleged enforced disappearance. But the superior courts should lend courage to the anti-terrorism courts that they should not release the terrorists because of fear. In June 2011, a two-member bench of Supreme Court headed by Justice Javed Iqbal had observed: “It has become a trend that NGOs exaggerate figures of missing persons but fail to provide details about them. He remarked that “these NGOs were just spreading sensationalism and conducting press conferences without obtaining facts on the missing persons. He asked the NGO representatives to provide complete details of persons whom they claim are missing”. So far as Balochistan is concerned it is veritably in a spot for quite some time for missing persons and also in the vile lap of target killings. Its problem is complex and intricate, not readily explicable, and not amenable to easy solution and populist remedies.
There have been target killings of innocent civilians, teachers, professors and cops and security personnel in Balochistan. In case anybody challenges writ of the state or is responsible for creating rebellion-like situation on whatever pretext, he should be prosecuted and punished. While there could be some suspects arrested by the police or intelligence agencies, but one should not rule out the possibility that a number of missing persons could be in Afghanistan and India, or killed by foreign agencies with whom they have had connections. Of course, there should be high-powered judicial enquiry for missing persons, which should not only locate missing persons held on various charges but also trace them from Ferrari Camps/Detention Centres being run by Baloch Sardars and insurgents. Investigation should also be made to find out how many people have gone underground or gone to Afghanistan for training. In any case, arrogant sardars prosper more; they grow richer; and they become more powerful socially as well as politically. On the other hand, people of Balochistan are getting only poorer, impoverished, and helplessly disempowered.
No one in his right senses would support state terrorism or condone the killing of Pakistanis whether nationalist sardar or a common Baloch, but one has to look into the circumstances in which a person is killed. Sardar Akbar Bugti was killed when he had challenged the writ of the state; and even after his murder, his supporters were involved in abduction, kidnapping of local civilians for ransom and also security personnel for acceptance of their illegitimate demands including release of their ‘comrade in arms’. During January and February 2010, Brahamdagh Bugti discussed on phone with his front man Mlahar about release of kidnapped security officials, which message was intercepted. After the tragic death of Akbar Bugti, Baloch leader Sardar Khair Buksh Marri in an interview had described the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti as a target killing, and was concerned over the danger to the life of his own son Balach Marri, who was later killed in Afghanistan in mysterious circumstances. He was perhaps killed in the cross fire between the militants and NATO forces. But they as usual accused ISI of his murder.