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  • In the missing persons case, PM Shehbaz appears before the court

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    Islamabad High Court File Photo Islamabad High Court

    Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah lambasted the government for having “no control over subsidiary institutions” as Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif appeared before the IHC on Friday in missing persons case.

    Earlier in July, the court had given the incumbent government till early September to recover six missing persons, including journalist Mudassar Naro, and present them before the court, warning that in case of non-recovery, the premier will have to appear in person at the next hearing.

    During the hearing of the case earlier today, CJ Minallah stated that “it [missing persons] is a serious issue” as he explained why the PM had been called to the court.

    “The matter has been pending in court for several months now,” he added as he expressed dissatisfaction over the government’s inaction on the issue.

    The court said that as the chief executive the responsibility to address enforced disappearances lies with him.

    Acknowledging the committee formed by PM Shehbaz and his efforts, the court went on to express deep concern saying “this is not an issue for a committee”.

    The IHC also said that the pain of the affected families had not been taken into account as it observed that no action had been taken even in the case of the recovered individuals.

    “No issue is larger than this one before the court,” remarked the judge confessing that the Baloch students’ issues were “most disturbing” and that enforced disappearances were a matter of going against the constitution. The court also regretted the impression that state agencies were involved in the disappearances.

    “This court will ensure civil supremacy,” said CJ Minallah as he regretted that PM Shehbaz had to appear before the court. “Either it should be admitted that the constitution is not held or these institutions are under the control of the executive.”

    Taking responsibility over the matter, PM Shehbaz said that he had been busy visiting flood-affected areas but added that he did not “want to hide behind any excuses”.

    The prime minister said that he had met with the families of the missing persons as he reminisced on one child in particular that had appealed to him to recover his father.

    “It is my responsibility that I find this child’s father,” he said, adding that “his question pains me every day”.

    “I am answerable to the people of Pakistan,” he said as he informed the court that the concerned committee had met six times and also contacted the relevant authorities. He also assured the court that he would personally check on the committee’s performance in two weeks’ time.

    “In one month a report will be submitted that will not be mere fiction but will be based on facts,” he asserted.

    “I guarantee that the missing persons will be repatriated with their families,” said PM Shehbaz, adding that he can't promise that all missing persons will return but "will leave no stone unturned".

    He also assured the court he would come before it whenever asked.

    The premier also said that he could empathise with the families as he had himself been to jail and his own family had suffered the same pain.

    CJ Minallah said that as per the previous hearing all chief executives will be held responsible, while PM Shehbaz said the court’s message had been heard loud and clear.

    The court said that the issue was that those holding the office deny any responsibility, “if you can't solve the issue why don’t you leave office?”.

    The attorney general on the occasion said that he along with the law and home ministers were committed to the cause and requested the court for some time to address the matter.

    The IHC accepted the request of the law minister and granted two months' time for taking action, and gave the federal government the opportunity to take action on the missing persons cases.