January 18th, 2021
On Saturday a two-member bench of the Sindh High Court (SHC) headed by honorable Justice Naimutullah Phulpotu, while hearing a petition for the recovery of five missing citizens, severely reprimanded the government over its inability to take meaningful action for the recovery of victims of enforced disappearances.
The five men namely, Mohammad Furqan Khan, Ali Mehdi, Mohammad Amin, Mohammad Ilyas and Anees Ismail, were allegedly picked up by Pakistan’s security forces several years ago and have not been heard from since. The victims were picked up from New Karachi, Rizvia Society, PECHS and Landhi areas, respectively.
Justice Naimutullah Phulpotu directed the federal secretary for interior and the federal secretary for defense to submit reports on the actions and efforts taken by their respective departments for the recovery of these five citizens by the next hearing.
In addition to issuing directives to the federal secretaries the court also directed the concerned provincial authorities to conduct sessions of their Joint Investigations Teams for the recovery of these missing citizens.
The scourge of rampant enforced disappearances has persisted in Pakistan for over a decade now, reaching its peak during the country’s war against terrorism.
But as the security forces tout their grand victory against the terrorist insurgency in the country the rationale and acceptability of the practice are now on a steep decline, and the higher courts are on the frontline against this blatant violation of citizens’ right to life and liberty.
The current remarks by the Sindh High Court (SHC) can be considered part of this broader pushback, whereby the higher courts are rebuking, summoning and even fining administrative bodies over this archaic practice.
Human Rights Activists, civil society organizations, lawyers and journalists have welcomed this proactive approach taken by the courts and call it an important step in ending this cruel practice from the country.