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IHC summons PM Kakar on Feb 19 in missing Baloch students case

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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday summoned caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar on February 19 over the failure to recover allegedly missing Baloch students.

The directive was issued as IHC’s Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani resumed hearing a petition 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.

In November last year, the IHC had warned that a case could be registered against the interim premier and others if they failed to reunite the missing Baloch students with their families.

During that hearing, the Attorney General for Pakistan had informed the court that out of 50 missing persons, 22 had been recovered, while the whereabouts of 28 others were still unknown.

Meanwhile, at the previous hearing on January 10, Justice Kayani had remarked that a day would come when intelligence officials would also be held accountable and face prosecution for cases.

During today’s hearing, Justice Kayani expressed displeasure at the failure recovering the missing persons and remarked: “The punishment of enforced disappearances should be the death penalty.”

“Usually death penalty is awarded once but in these cases, the punishment should be given twice,” he added.

The judge further remarked that he was summoning the caretaker prime minister for now and would later also issue directives for the incoming premier to appear before the court.

For his part, Assistant Attorney General Usman Ghumman said that the government needed more time in the case. He further stated that another Baloch missing student had been recovered.

However, Justice Kayani said he was being “generous” by not summoning the director generals of the Military Intelligence and the Inter-Services Intelligence.

Subsequently, the IHC instructed PM Kakar to appear in court at 10am on February 19 (Monday) and inform the court why a case shouldn’t be registered against him.

51 more enforced disappearances in 2023

According to a report published by non-governmental organisation (NGO) Defence of Human Rights (DHR) in December last year, Pakistan reported 51 more cases of enforced disappearances in 2023.

“The total number of cases stands at 3,120, with 51 cases registered in 2023 alone. Notably, 595 individuals have been released and reunited with their families, 246 people have been traced, and 88 cases have sadly resulted in extrajudicial killings,” DHR said.

According to the report, 17 missing persons from Azad Jammu and Kashmir were released and the whereabouts of two others were traced while one was extrajudicially killed while 20 remained missing.

Out of the 82 missing persons from Balochistan, the whereabouts of 67 remained unknown, 12 were released, two were traced and one was extrajudicially killed.

In Islamabad, 47 people remained missing while 32 were released, seven were traced and three were extrajudicially killed.

Out of the 1,091 missing persons in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 121 were released, 792 remained missing, 151 were traced and 27 were extrajudicially killed. In Punjab, 343 were released, 323 remained missing, 76 were traced and 46 were extrajudicially killed.

In Sindh, 134 people remained missing, 70 were released, eight were traced and 10 were extrajudicially killed.

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