'Missing' Military Officer: Court Directs Govt To Submit Charges In Writing

Missing officer's wife contends he was detained from his office in Quetta three months ago but there has been no communication with him since

'Missing' Military Officer: Court Directs Govt To Submit Charges In Writing

The government has been directed to submit, in writing, the charges against a serving military officer of general rank deputed at a military cantonment in Quetta who had been detained by an investigative branch of the military. 

This was directed by a single-member bench of the Lahore High Court's Rawalpindi Bench, comprising Justice Jawad Hassan, on Wednesday while hearing a petition filed by the officer's wife, Ummaira Saleem.

The court directed Deputy Attorney General Siddique Awan to bring the relevant person in the case against Brigadier Akhtar Subhan. The federal defence ministry, Adjutant General of the Army and Commanding Officer 28 Military Police Unit of Rawalpindi have been listed as the respondent in the petition.

Saleem contended that her husband was a serving military officer of Brigadier rank (one-star general) and that he had been deputed as the Administrator of the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) in Quetta.

In her petition, Saleem claimed that Brigadier Subhan was allegedly 'abducted' by officials of the Special Investigation Branch from his office on June 22, 2023, and was brought to Rawalpindi for further investigations. 

Saleem contended in her petition that her husband had been kept in illegal custody since, with no meaningful communication with his family or the outside world.

She claimed that despite repeated efforts to obtain information about her husband's health and well-being, she was not provided with any information about him or under what law he had been detained and whether he had access to any legal assistance. Saleem further contended in her petition that a written request was made to the Adjutant General to release her husband, and if any disciplinary proceedings were pending against him, he should be treated in accordance with the law. 

Citing the Pakistan Army Act 1952, the petition contended that an individual cannot be detained for more than 48 hours without trial in light of sections 74 and 75 of the law. If the detainee faces prosecution, they are entitled to a copy of his charge sheet and summary of evidence to prepare his defence under the relevant law. 

In the petition, Saleem stated that the detainee has not been given meaningful access to his family nor legal counsel of his choice for the the last three months. 

Recently, when she learnt that her husband had been shifted to 28 Military Police Unit in Rawalpindi, she filed the case under Article 199 of the Constitution. 

She urged the court to direct the respondents to produce her husband and declare his arrest and continued detention as illegal and violating service rules.

The court subsequently instructed the government to produce the officers and to submit the charges against him in writing. The government was ordered to present him before the court on Thursday.

The writer is an Islamabad based journalist working with The Friday Times. He tweets @SabihUlHussnain