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Missing Persons' Case: ‘country's System In Jeopardy'

2010,01,07

"What kind of democracy is this where the fundamental rights of the people cannot not be ensured?" Justice Javed Iqbal observed

* Justice Javed says democracy will remain ‘a pipeline dream' until citizens given fundamental rights
* Hue and cry is raised if courts try to mend system's flaws
* Asks why Altaf Hussain has failed to trace missing MQM members despite being part of govt since 1996

ISLAMABAD: Criticising the government on Wednesday, the Supreme Court said the system of the country was in jeopardy and the concept of democracy would remain a "pipeline dream" until the fundamental rights of the citizens were ensured.

"What kind of democracy is this where the fundamental rights of the people cannot not be ensured?" Justice Javed Iqbal observed while heading a three-member SC bench that was hearing petitions filed by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and others regarding the case of missing Baloch persons.

The court directed HRCP's counsel Asma Jahangir to present a consolidated list of the missing persons within two weeks so that the SC had an updated list of missing persons if it wanted to constitute a commission to probe the matter.

Families of the missing persons claim that their relatives were taken away by intelligence agencies for allegedly having links to Baloch nationalists and other terrorist groups in the country.

According to an earlier list prepared by the HRCP in 2007, 198 people are missing, of which 99 have been traced, but the rest remain at large.

Among those whose whereabouts are still unknown, there are 66 people from Balochistan, 13 from the NWFP, 12 from Sindh, seven from Punjab, while one is a foreign national.

Hue and cry: During the course of the hearing, Justice Javed Iqbal said nothing in the country was being done effectively and a hue and cry was raised every time the courts tried to mend the flaws in the system.

The SC ordered the chief of Karachi police to present a report on 28 persons that had been missing from Karachi since 1996.

Justice Javed Iqbal also asked why Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain could not trace his party's missing members despite being part of every government since 1996.

The bench also took up the matter of one Mustafa Azam of Karachi, whose father claimed he was in custody of the Frontier Corps. The bench directed FC Inspector General Major General Tariq Khan and Major Ibrahim to appear in person on the next date of hearing in connection with the case.

The man's father said after being abducted, Mustafa was kept in a prison in Karachi and later handed over to the FC over his alleged involvement in a bomb blast in Peshawar around two months ago.

Publisher: nsr

Source: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010%5C01%5C07%5Cstory_7-1-2010_pg1_3

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