April 23rd, 2021
The Sindh High Court (SHC) has issued a strongly worded notice to the Secretary of the Interior for continuously failing to present a list of all the internment centers in Khyber Pukhtunkhwa (KP), where “missing persons” are being detained. The notice was issued after the court hearing of a case about the recovery of missing persons from the different areas of Karachi.
In a surprising turn of events, the court order began by praising the investigating officer of the case for making “serious efforts” for the recovery of a missing person – the initial focus of the court case. The Interior Ministry of Pakistan, therefore, was asked to present to the court a list of all “internment centers” where “missing citizens” were being held.
In its retort, the Interior Ministry told the court that missing persons were not being held by departments answerable to the ministry such as the FIA or the Rangers. Instead the missing persons were being held in internment centers which were both, being ‘established and administered’ by the KP home department.
The division bench of the SHC being led by Justice Karim Khan Agha was “shocked and surprised” by the defense presented by the Interior Ministry. The judges said that the court had observed the role being played by the ministry of Interior which was trying to resolve the recent crisis following the violent protests by the TLP. According to the court if the federal ministry of interior was powerful enough to intercede in a matter primarily related to the province of Punjab, then it was powerful enough to attain ‘very basic information’ about the internment camps in KP.
The court has ordered the ministry of Interior to present a list before the court “mentioning all internment camps in KPK along with details of all the persons held therein”. The court also ordered Attorney General Sindh to go through “each and every missing person’s case which is pending in this case along with the CNIC numbers and fathers’ names of each missing person, if available”, so, that the court can crosscheck the names of the individuals on both lists and peruse legal remedies accordingly.
The court has warned the secretary Interior that if the list is not presented in court by the next hearing, which is slotted for April 27, then he should appear in court in person to explain his position on the matter.