Pak intelligence agencies face challenge from SC

Pakistan`s powerful military intelligence agencies are facing an unprecedented challenge from the Supreme Court.

Islamabad: Pakistan`s powerful military intelligence agencies are facing an unprecedented challenge
from the Supreme Court, which has directed them to produce
seven men who were allegedly arrested without due process and
injured while in custody.

A three-judge bench headed by chief Justice Iftikhar
Chaudhry directed the Inter-Services Intelligence and Military
Intelligence yesterday to present the seven men in court on
February 13.

The bench also directed the Defence Secretary and Chief
Secretary of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province to be present at the
next hearing.

The judges repeatedly pulled up Raja Irshad, the counsel
for the two intelligence agencies, after the men were not
presented in court in accordance with a deadline set by the
bench earlier.

"Our order has not been complied with. The missing
prisoners are in the custody of the intelligence agencies.

Right now, we want to see the surviving prisoners," the Chief
Justice remarked.

Irshad informed the court that four of the men were in
Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar while the others were in a
detention centre at Parachinar, the main town of Kurram tribal
region. He assured the judges that the men would be produced
in court on February 13.

The bench took up the case of the "missing" men after a
woman petitioned the apex court, saying that her three sons
were picked up by intelligence operatives for their alleged
role in attacks on the army`s General Headquarters and the
ISI`s Hamza Camp in Rawalpindi.

The court was subsequently informed that the woman`s sons
were detained along with eight other men, and that four of the
suspects had died in mysterious circumstances over the past
six months.

The suspects were all being tried under the Army Act.
During yesterday`s hearing, the Chief Justice said the
court intended to investigate the circumstances in which the
four prisoners died and to "fix responsibility".

Even as the court was conducting the hearing, four of the
men were moved from Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar,
apparently by intelligence operatives who had their faces
covered. Footage aired by Geo News channel showed that one of
the men was unable to walk without help.

An official at the hospital told the media the four men
had been undergoing treatment at the medico-legal ward and had
been in a "bad shape" when they were brought in.

The four men who died earlier were also treated at Lady
Reading Hospital. They were brought to the hospital in a
precarious condition and doctors had no chance to save them,
the official said.

The 11 men were acquitted by an anti-terrorism court in
Rawalpindi in April 2010. Before they could be released from
Adiala Jail, the Punjab Home Department extended their
detention in May 2010 for 90 days under the Maintenance of
Public Order Ordinance.

Though the detention orders were set aside by the Lahore
High Court, authorities at Adiala Jail handed the 11 men to
intelligence agencies on May 29, 2010. When the matter came up
for hearing in the Supreme Court, the heads of the ISI and MI
conceded that the men were in the custody of their agencies.

The Advocate General too acknowledged that the men were
formally arrested in the first week of April last year and a
case had been registered against them under the Pakistan Army