IHC judge calls for ‘death penalty’ for elements behind forced disappearance

  • Justice Mohsin Kayani threatens to summon PM if no action is taken against abductors of poet Ahmed Farhad

ISLAMABAD: Islamabad High Court (IHC) Judge Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani on Thursday called for the introduction of a law that would impose the death penalty on those responsible for enforced disappearances.

Justice Kayani made the remarks during a hearing of a petition filed by poet Ahmed Farhad Shah’s wife, who went missing two days ago. Lawyers Iman Mazari and Hadi Ali Chatha represented the petitioner. SSP Operations Jameel Zafar was also present on the occasion.

During the hearing, the government lawyer stated that a special investigation team has been formed and efforts are ongoing for Shah’s recovery.

SSP Zafar said that he met Shah’s wife, saying that the poet was apparently taken from outside his home, but the vehicle’s number plates were unreadable due to darkness.

He said that efforts to trace the vehicles are ongoing with the Federal Investigation Authority (FIA), adding that letters have been sent to all intelligence agencies in this regard.

The court expressed frustration over the lack of progress in the case and asked why those responsible for enforced disappearances are not brought to book.

Justice Kayani asked the SSP if the agencies responded to their letters. The SSP replied that no positive responses have been received. He expressed trust in the ability of police but lamented that investigations do not progress beyond a certain point.

The government lawyer said that those who return after being taken often claim they “went to Kaghan”, a popular tourist destination in Pakistan.

Justice Kayani remarked that “unidentified persons” can make people memorise their lessons within 24 hours.

He said that it was shameful that Shah was taken for speaking about missing persons, and everyone knew who was responsible. “When missing individuals return after months or years, their families urge them to stay silent,” he said.

Justice Kayani called for legislation enforcing the death penalty for disappearances, expressing hope for a Missing Persons Act. He noted that those who talk the most about the issue, including journalists and political activists, go missing.

He questioned the role of the Ministry of Information and held the secretaries of interior and defence accountable.

Justice Kayani stated that everyone, including himself, is accountable. He threatened to summon the prime minister if no action is taken against the abductors. “I told the IG that responsibility lies with him if someone goes missing,” he said to which the government lawyer responded by saying that efforts were underway for the recovery of the missing poet.

Justice Kayani questioned if writing to law enforcement agencies would solve the issue. He warned of action against everyone if Shah is not recovered.

He directed the Secretary of Interior to present a report by the next hearing. He ordered an officer from the Ministry of Defence to appear at the next session. Later, the hearing was adjourned until Monday.

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