Islamabad High Court (IHC) has directed the issuance of notices to former military dictator retired General Pervez Musharraf and his successors, as well as Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, to question them over the policy of enforced disappearance ‘tacitly approved’ by them.
Notices are also to be sent to former prime minister Imran Khan. The court has also asked the notified persons to explain why proceedings may not be started against them on the charges of subversion of the Constitution.
The order also said that if the missing persons were not recovered, then the present and former interior ministers would be summoned in court to explain why petitions might not be decided and exemplary costs imposed upon them for the unimaginable agony and pain suffered by the petitioners on account of lack of response and empathy while dealing with their grievances.
“They [notified persons] shall submit their respective affidavits explaining why the Court may not order proceedings against them for alleged subversion of the Constitution in the context of the undeclared tacit approval of the policy regarding enforced disappearances and thus putting national security at risk by allowing the involvement of law enforcing agencies, particularly the Armed Forces.”
“The onus is on each Chief Executive to rebut the presumption and to explain why they may not be tried for the offence of high treason”, read the order authored by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah.
The High Court said that the continued existence of the phenomenon of disappeared persons was ‘intolerable’, made even more so when there was overwhelming evidence to support the fact that this was a tacit policy of the State.
The order also stated that the involvement or even a perception of the involvement of the Armed Forces in acts amounting to violation of human rights and freedom of the citizens weakens and undermines the rule of law. “It definitely puts national security and integrity at risk,” it said.
It demanded that the missing persons be produced before court by June 17th, otherwise the federal government would be asked to justify the failure of the state to effectively investigate and trace their whereabouts.