Elected officials can be disqualified in Pakistan, but unelected DG ISI, MI are above the law?

Debate begins on whether DG ISI, MI can be booked

By: Ahmad Noorani

ISLAMABAD: For the first time in country’s history, the Punjab Police have registered an FIR against the chiefs of the Inter Services Intelligence (IsI) and Military intelligence in a missing person’s case in compliance with the Islamabad High Court orders.

The Punjab police action has sparked a new debate as to whether police can book chiefs of major intelligence agencies of the country.According to details, one Naveed Butt, spokesman of banned Hizbul Tehrir was allegedly picked up by the agencies on May 11, 2012, outside his home in Lahore in area of Liaqatabad Police Station. Saadia Rahat, a lawyer and wife of Naveed Butt, moved the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against abduction of her husband and also moved an application in the Police Station concerned.

On May 14, 2012, the IHC ordered the Punjab Police to recover the missing person and act under the law. However, Naveed was not recovered and on June 26, 2012, the Punjab Police registered an FIR based on the application of Naveed’s wife.

The FIR is captioned: ‘FIR against DG ISI, Deputy Director ISI, Lahore, DG MI, Rawalpindi, Deputy Director MI, Lahore,” and numbered 566/12 PS Liaqtabad, Lahore. Some experts say that an FIR could not be registered against the intelligence chiefs of the country while others disagree with this view.

After registration of the FIR, the Punjab Police immediately took action against the SHO Rana Khursheed of the police station concerned and made the concerned SP, Athar Waheed, an OSD, considered to be a punishment in bureaucratic parlance.

Raja Irshad, senior lawyer, who represented the ISI in many cases, when approached by The News, said that registering of FIR against the DG ISI and DG MI is a ‘wrongful and ‘illegal act’.

Raja Irshad was of the view that police cannot register an FIR against the chiefs of intelligence agencies in any case. “If there is some complaints by a complainant regarding forced abduction of someone, and it is alleged that some agencies have abducted that person, police can register a general FIR without naming anybody but that too after investigations and getting some relevant evidence,” Raja said adding: “The act of registering an FIR and naming top officials without having any evidence is uncalled for.”

SP Athar Waheed, on the other hand, when approached by The News said that he had simply forwarded the IHC directions to the police station concerned and his high-ups were aware of the registration of FIR.

“We have standing instructions from the Ministry of Interior that if an FIR is not registered on any complaint of some missing person, the IG concerned will be held responsible,” Athar Waheed said adding: “Under law, we could not pressurise the complainant to change the contents of his/her complaint.” Athar said these were orders of the IHC which were complied with.

Athar said that after registration of the FIR and action against him and SHO concerned, the IHC wrote in its order that the SP and SHO were removed from their position simply because of compliance of the court orders.

After this IHC note, there remains no doubt that SP Athar Waheed and SHO acted strictly in compliance with orders of the honourable high court. On a July 25, 2012, hearing, the IHC ordered IGP, Punjab, who was summoned by the court in this case, to recover Naveed Butt within the next 15 days, i.e. by August 9, 2012.

Umar Hayat Sindhu, senior lawyer, who represented Saadia Rahat in IHC while talking to The News said that it is wrong to say that an FIR could not be registered against the intelligence agencies chiefs. He said that everyone is equal under law and no office immune from the implementation of law.

“If an FIR could be registered against the Prime Minister of the country, who is the real head of ISI, how the ISI DG could be immune from such an action. This is all absurd. Those who say that it could not be done should give the reference of law and Constitution under which it is not possible,” Umar Hayat Sindhu opined.

Sindhu cited “Professor Muhammad Hanif Vs Federation of Pakistan Case” and said that one Usama Hanif s/o Prof Muhammad Hanif was abducted by agencies and was kept in a safe-house situated in Sector F-11 of Islamabad. “Usama Hanif, later recorded his statement under Section 164 CrPC and not only nominated ISI officials but also identified the exact location of his illegal detention. The Islamabad High Court, in its judgement has ordered the Islamabad Police that it is bound to take action under the law,” Sindhu said.

Sindhu said that according to family members of Naveed, officials of the agency contacted them and said that if they (family members) and Naved could give a written affidavit that he will give up his political activities, he will be released. The family is not ready for this, the lawyer said.

Sindhu said that during the hearing of case on July 25, when the court asked the IGP Punjab about his efforts to recover the missing person, IGP replied that police had searched him at many places like hospitals etc. He said the court remarked: “Leave it, IG Sahib, we all know where he is. You must do something to recover him wherever he is.”

Sindhu was of the view that SP Athar Waheed and his subordinate police officials stand for rule of law and acted in accordance with IHC orders.

Tariq Mehmood Jehangiri, Deputy Attorney General, who appeared in some initial hearings of the case, told The News that IHC had issued notices to all on the application of the wife of the missing person. “ISI and MI in their replies submitted through the Ministry of Defense that the abducted person was not in their custody,” Jehangiri said adding: “Afterwards, the court ordered the Punjab Police to recover the missing person.”

Umar Hayat Sindhu admitted that police usually are unable to act against agencies, so there is severe need of some legislation to make some forum which could hold agencies and spy masters answerable and accountable.

He said that it is unfortunate that our legislature has failed to do something on this count despite the fact that the issue of missing persons is one decade old now. He said that even the present government did nothing regarding any legislation in this regard.

Courtesy: The News


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