Court asks ISI, army chiefs to court martial those involved
PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Thursday asked the Pakistan Army and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director general to constitute a high-powered committee to probe the unlawful arrest and detention of citizens in illegal detention cells by ISI sector commanders and other intelligence agencies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata. The court directed the DG ISI and army chief to court-martial those involved under the Army Act.
A two-member bench comprising PHC Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice Mian Fasihul Mulk issued the directive to the ISI head and other officials of the armed forces after a statement by two missing persons following their release from 38 months of unlawful captivity in detention cells without any charge.
“Instead of taking any direct action against the agencies, we will leave the matter to the ISI director general and GHQ to inquire about the unlawful activities of the ISI and other agencies in the province and Fata. It is more than essential to bring them under control and if they violated discipline, they should be court-martialed under the Army Act,” the bench stated in its detailed order.
The bench also stated that it was expecting the Pakistan Army to step into the matter to regain its past glory lost due to some sector commanders who violated fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution and kept citizens in illegal detention cells. “The damage caused to this prestigious institution will be repaired through early action, which must be visible to the public at large,” the bench said in the order.
The bench also directed that copies of the order be sent to chief of the army staff, ISI director general and the secretary, Ministry of Defence.
Mir Arshad, a missing person freed recently, informed the bench that after being shifted to an undisclosed location from Peshawar he was interrogated for the first three days by the agency personnel and then kept for 38 months in illegal captivity. About 105 missing persons were present in that centre, he claimed.
The bearded man, who was running a sanitary shop in Peshawar’s Hashtnagri locality, said he was released after almost three years without any charges. He said during his detention his mother fell ill and died.
The PHC chief justice asked the deputy attorney general (DAG) representing the federal government and agencies: “Who will compensate this man whose business remained closed for three years and his mother passed away? Why are they (agencies) acting blindly and under what authority?”
“We extensively interrogated the missing person, but could not find even a single clue to any nexus between him [Mir Arshad] and militants group,” the order stated.
It said the missing person was interrogated for three days and then the ISI kept him in illegal captivity for 38 months. “This is not a single case with the court where fundamental rights have been trampled by heavy boots of the ISI, but in hundreds of cases, old parents, daughters and widows coming to the court crying but the agency personnel showed no mercy to our own citizens,” the bench said.
During the course of hearing, Justice Dost Muhammad Khan observed that he had some information from his own sources that there was no permission to sector commanders from the headquarters to indulge in unlawful activities, but they had become kings of the areas and passed wrong information to their superiors in the missing persons’ cases and illegal detention.
In another case, the same bench summoned an ISI sector commander and directed him to explain his position about the whereabouts of a missing person at the next hearing.
Redi Gul, father of the missing Sanam Gul, had petitioned the court that his son was taken into custody by law-enforcement agencies in the jurisdiction of Hayatabad Police Station almost three years ago and was still missing.
In another missing person case, the bench summoned the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa inspector general of prisons and directed him to appear and explain his position on why jail authorities were helping agencies and handing over freed prisoners to them.
The bench also summoned ISI sector commander, Mardan, for picking up two brothers, Zahid and Sufaid, from the District Jail Mardan after their release on bail. Zahid was freed after six months while the whereabouts of Sufaid are still unknown.
Fata’s additional chief secretary Dr Tashfeen Khan also appeared in the court in the case of two minor brothers who went missing from Fata and on his request the court gave him three weeks to search for them with the intelligence agencies.
Shan Bibi in this case had claimed that her two sons, Nazeem and Ijaz, were taken away by security forces from a government school in Lal Jan Killay in Bajaur Agency on January 7, 2011 and their whereabouts were unknown.
According to Aurangzeb Khan, counsel for the petitioner, Agency Education Officer Hashim Khan had stated on oath before the court on October 13, 2011 that the two boys aged around 11 years were taken away from their school by security forces personnel.