ISLAMABAD: Lawyers of the incumbent Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government on Wednesday faced the family of a missing person as they appealed against a landmark verdict of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) regarding the missing persons issue that declared enforced disappearances as a “crime against humanity”.
Mrs Mahera Sajid, the wife of missing person Sajid Mehmood, appeared before a division bench of the IHC to face an appeal against the earlier verdict of the IHC.
Sajid Mehmood, an IT expert by profession and resident of Sector F-10 of the federal capital, had gone missing back in March 2016. He was abducted during an evening in front of his wife, three young children and a number of passersby.
For two years, his wife ran from pillar to post in search of her husband until IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah gave a landmark verdict, directing the government to provide monetary relief to families of the missing persons, and for the police to get to the bottom of the issue.
However, the government along with three other petitioners had appealed against the decision. According to Umer Gilani, Mrs Sajid’s lawyer, they were hoping that the PTI government would drop the appeal after Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari had promised to make enforced disappearances a crime in the penal code.
“There are three other petitioners in this case so we had hoped that the government would withdraw its appeal as a gesture of good will, but this was not the case” he told Pakistan Today.
Of the five appeals filed against the verdict, two were filed by the caretaker government while three by private parties, including the cops who were singled out in the decision. When Mr Gilani saw the deputy attorney general and advocate general appear before the court after Ms Mazari’s statement, he was surprised that the new government decided to pursue the appeal.
Back when the appeal had first gone to court in September, Deputy Attorney General Irshad Kayani had confirmed that the government had actually asked him to pursue the appeal, let alone indicating to withdraw it.
“Dragging the families of missing persons in courts and depriving them of whatever little comfort some courageous judges have tried to offer? Is this the PTI’s official policy on missing persons’ issue? I am sure the PTI could do better” said Mr Gilani.
According to Mr Gilani, the government recognises the issue of missing persons but has no sympathy for the families of victims.
“Mrs Sajid had gotten some relief for the first time in two years, her husband still hasn’t returned. Now the government is trying its very best to make sure that she does not have that relief either.”