Won`t make excuses over missing persons cases, says PM – 10 Sep 2022

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Friday assured the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that he would do everything he could to reunite missing persons with their families, resolve the issue of Baloch students and take up the matter with the relevant quarters.

The premier appeared before the IHC during the hearing of identical petitions related to enforced disappearances.

Ahead of the hearing, when PM Sharif entered the court premises, heshook hands with the three-year-old son of missing journalist Mudassir Naru, Sachal, who asked the former when his father would come home. `Very soon, the premier replied.

During proceedings, Chief Justice Athar Minallah reminded the premier that being the chief executive of the country, he heads all government institutions and law enforcement agencies and asked him to demonstrate that there was `no state within a state` `If a chief executive can`t exercise his constitutional powers, it means the Constitution is not restored in letter and spirit,` Justice Minallah remarked.

The chief justice said if the chief executive confessed that the Constitution was not being implemented in letter and spirit and there was a state within a state, the constitutionalcourt would then `summon someone else` Enforced disappearances were tantamount to subversion of the Constitution and the buck stops with the federal government, he remarl(ed.

Justice Minallah also questioned the poor performance of the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances and the alleged objectionable conduct of its chairman, Javed Iqbal, mentioning that the families of missing persons had divulged disturbing details about the commission and conduct of its chairman.

In his statement, PM Sharif claimed he did not want to hide behind excuses and `accept full responsibility of the enforced disappearances`. His duty was to trace the missing person and to reunite them with their near and dear ones, he said.

Recalling that he had been jailed twice during the past four years, the premier said: `I can understand the plight of the victims of enforced disappearances. I am answerable to the court, people of Pakistan and Allah Almighty.

He informed the court that a committee had been constituted to deal with the issues related to missing persons and assured the chief justice that he would supervise the proceeding of the committee and seek fortnightly report of its performance.

Justice Minallah appreciated his efforts but advised him to ensure no person would go missing during his tenure.

Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf, meanwhile, apprised the court that being a member of the committee on missing persons, he made phonecalls to Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, former FIA director general Nasir Khosa and ex-minister Asad Umar and invited them for the committee`s meeting. `I will personally visit the Senate chairman to extend him invitation for the meeting,` he added.

Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar told the court that the committee conducted open-door meetings and met the families of the missing persons.

However, he explained, the issue of enforced disappearances prevailing for past two decades could not be resolved within a fortnight as it needed coordinated efforts and intrainstitutional dialogue.

He assured the court that the committee would submit its report to the IHC within two months, adding that the conduct of chairman of the missing persons commission would also be placed on record.

The court subsequently adjourned the hearing till November 14.

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