ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif appeared in the High Court in Islamabad on Friday and assured the Chief Justice that he would do all he could to find missing persons who were allegedly arrested by security agencies because they were suspected of involvement in anti-state activities.
The Pakistani Prime Minister was invited by the court to bring the issue of enforced disappearances before Parliament to legislate on this subject, as “India and other countries have done”.
Last July, Chief Justice Athar minallah warned that if the missing people were not found, he would summon the outgoing chief executive, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
As Sharif appeared in court, Judge Minallah told him that he had been summoned because the issue at hand was important. The judge recalled that the court had referred the missing persons issue to the federal cabinet on several occasions, but that the cabinet’s response “was not what it should have been.”
Referring to former military leader Pervez Musharraf, he said: “A chief executive reigned in this country for nine years. He proudly wrote in his book that we have sold our people to foreign countries. The court stressed that it should not be given the impression that law enforcement was picking up citizens.
Addressing the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice said: “You are the Prime Minister and the national security of this country is in your hands. This court trusts you. Give us a solution to this problem. He ordered Sharif to take the issues to parliament and legislate on them. “India and other countries have done the same,” he said.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif replied that solving the problem was his duty. “I can’t say that all the missing people will be found, but we will leave no stone unturned in this case,” the prime minister told the court.
Justice Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, who was also summoned to court along with Prime Minister and Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, asked the court for another eight to 10 weeks to introduce reforms in the criminal justice system. The court then granted the government more time and adjourned the hearing until November 14.
Enforced disappearances are a persistent problem throughout Pakistan. Human rights activists and observers claim that law enforcement agencies, particularly Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), are responsible for enforced disappearances in Pakistan. Security agencies, however, deny the claims and insist that many of those missing have either joined militant organizations such as the Pakistani Taliban. Law enforcement also say many died en route to Europe as illegal immigrants.
The missing persons commission revealed that it had received more than 8,463 complaints of enforced disappearances since its establishment in March 2011. According to the commission’s monthly report, it had received 76 complaints of missing persons last March alone.

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