ISI “biggest violators” of law: Pak SC

Last Updated: Thursday, March 1, 2012 - 20:58

Islamabad: Pakistan`s Supreme Court on Thursday
rapped the ISI and Military Intelligence over the replies
submitted by them about the detention of 11 men on terrorism
charges, calling them the "biggest violators" of the law.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar
Chaudhry voiced its reservations while hearing the case of the
11 men who were detained by the intelligence agencies in May
2010 after being cleared by an anti-terrorism court.

The bench expressed its dissatisfaction with the written
replies submitted by the intelligence agencies, in which they
alleged the men were involved in several acts of terrorism,
including attacks on the Army`s General Headquarters in 2009
and an ISI facility in Rawalpindi in 2007.

During the hearing, the bench observed: "You need to take
this out of your mind that you (ISI and Military Intelligence)
are superior and others are inferior."

The Chief Justice asked Raja Irshad, the lawyer
representing the ISI and Military Intelligence: "Under which
law have you been detaining them?"

Irshad evaded the query and said the court`s concerns
were "being conveyed to the authorities concerned."

The Chief Justice further remarked that the intelligence
agencies should act within the limits of law as they were not
"above the law".

He referred to the intelligence agencies as the "biggest
violators" of the law, saying they had become "insensitive" to
issues.

Four of the 11 men detained by the intelligence agencies
have died in mysterious circumstances over the past six
months, while the others were in very poor health when they
were produced in the apex court on February 11. The seven men
were unable to walk or stand without help and some of them
carried urine bags.

The Supreme Court took up the matter after Ruhaifa, the
mother of three of the detained men, filed a petition.

One of Ruhaifa`s sons died last year and she herself died
a day after the seven detainees were produced in court.

The two intelligence agencies had contended in their
replies that they could not close their eyes to "rebellious
acts" by internal and external elements involved in terrorism.

But the bench said the replies did not state the law
under which the civilians were picked up and kept in detention
for over a year.

The Chief Justice remarked: "We have to see why four
prisoners lost their lives."

Raja Irshad referred to sacrifices made by the
intelligence agencies but the Chief Justice responded by
saying that only the Constitution can be followed.

Irshad defended the intelligence agencies and said
Parliament should pass more effective anti-terrorism laws to
ensure that suspects are not acquitted on the basis on
insufficient evidence.

At this point, the Chief Justice said evidence must be
produced before any detainee can be found guilty.

"They may have attacked General Headquarters or (an ISI
facility), but bring the evidence," he said.

The Chief Justice also questioned Irshad about alleged
human rights abuses in Balochistan, where security agencies
have been accused of killing and detaining hundreds of members
of nationalist groups to put down an insurgency.

"Dead bodies are being found and Balochistan is on fire,"
he said.

Irshad said the intelligence services accepted the
Constitutional authority of the judiciary and that the seven
detainees were being provided medical care at a hospital on
the court`s orders.

However, the Chief Justice continued his criticism of the
intelligence agencies.

"You are so insensitive to the human loss that the
families of the missing persons have suffered because of you. This is a big allegation against you (ISI and Military
Intelligence) - there is a hue and cry throughout the country
that you abduct people and after some days, their abandoned
bodies surface," he said.

The bench subsequently adjourned the case till March 16.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, March 1, 2012 - 20:58

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