Pakistan's caretaker PM Kakar summoned by Islamabad HC in missing Baloch students case
A top Pakistani court on Wednesday summoned caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar ul Haq Kakar to personally appear before it on November 29 in a case involving 55 missing students from the restive Balochistan province and asked the government if it should refer the matter to the UN.
The Islamabad High Court directed Kakar to appear before it if he did not secure the recovery of the missing Baloch students according to the recommendations of the Baloch Enforced Disappearance Commission, Dawn News reported.
Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani passed the order while hearing a case regarding the implementation of the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances.
The commission was established in 2011 to trace missing persons and fix responsibility on the individuals or organisations responsible for it.
At the previous hearing, held on October 10, the IHC instructed the state to fulfil its responsibility in recovering the missing Baloch students, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.
At today's hearing, the additional attorney general requested Justice Kayani to not summon the ministers or the prime minister. Expressing his disapproval, the judge said: “There is nothing wrong in this [summoning the Prime Minister and other ministers]. Everyone is trying to make a joke out of this [the case]”.
He remarked, “What more injustice can there be towards the people of this country when they are being disappeared?” “Should we refer this matter to the United Nations and cause an insult to our country?” the judge asked, expressing concern about the increasing number of missing people.
Interim Prime Minister Kakar had last month admitted that according to a UN sub-committee’s estimates, around 50 people had been forcibly disappeared in Balochistan.
“Sometimes, we receive complaints in which they give us 5,000 names claiming they are missing. [They are] not ready to accept any UN best practices on collection of data of missing persons,” Kakar had said, adding the issue was used as a “propaganda tool” against Pakistan.
Assistant Attorney General Usman Ghumman presented a ministerial report on the Baloch missing persons. The court however returned the report expressing displeasure.
“The prime minister and interior minister are from Balochistan,” said Justice Kayani. “They should be empathetic to this matter, considering it involves Baloch students.” Justice Kayani mentioned that the case had previously been heard by former IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, noting that a commission was formed per the court’s orders, and the matter of enforced disappearances was referred to the federal government.
“The prime minister should have understood, and we expected he would say these are our children,” remarked Justice Kayani.
The judge noted that the former prime minister was also summoned, along with several other high-profile individuals connected to the case. Expressing frustration, he lamented the lack of progress despite efforts.
He mentioned that the prime minister, as well as the ministers for interior, human rights, and defence, would be summoned. “This was to be done by the executive, but the court is doing it.” Justice Kayani ordered a representative of the Ministry of Defence to appear at the next hearing along with the defence minister as well as the interior minister.
He said that their appearance ''would not make a difference'', and “it is not rocket science” to summon them.
Justice Kayani observed, “We are sitting in Islamabad and talking about the rights of Balochistan”.
During the hearing, the lawyer for the missing persons, Imaan Mazari, informed the court that even while this matter was pending before the court more Baloch people have been 'forcibly disappeared'.
Justice Kayani stressed that 55 missing Baloch students must be recovered in light of the recommendations of the commission; otherwise, the premier must appear before the court on November 29.
Resource-rich Balochistan, Pakistan's largest but least populated province, has been wrecked by a long-running separatist insurgency which has seen brutal repression by Pakistani security forces and enforced disappearances.
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