Ahmed Farhad's Disappearance: IHC Summons Top Civil, Military Spooks

Court allows reporting of case as govt seeks time to recover the missing poet

Ahmed Farhad's Disappearance: IHC Summons Top Civil, Military Spooks

In an unprecedented move, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has summoned a sector commander of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) over the alleged enforced disappearance of poet Ahmed Farhad.

The IHC has also summoned officials from other civil and military intelligence agencies, including the directors of the Military Intelligence (MI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB), civil servants, including the federal law minister and secretaries of defence and interior. They have been directed to appear in person before the court on Wednesday, May 29.

The court has also ordered the broadcast of live proceedings of all cases of missing persons.

IHC's Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani issued these directions on Friday as he took up the case of missing poet Ahmed Farhad Shah.

Justice Kayani issued an eight-page written order in Urdu following Friday's hearing. 

The court ruled that a written report must be submitted to the Registrar's Office if the missing individual is recovered before the next hearing.

During the hearing, the Attorney General of Pakistan requested the court grant the government a few more days to recover the missing poet. He assured the court that law enforcement agencies would be able to trace him within the timeframe.

During the hearing, journalists informed the court regarding a notification issued by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA), which banned live coverage of court proceedings. It is pertinent to note that IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq on Friday heard a petition filed by the Press Association of the Supreme Court (PAS) and the IHC Journalists Association (IHCJA) against PEMRA's notification but did not suspend it.

While underscoring the significance of the case, the court permitted reporting of the proceedings.

Shah, who hails from Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), shot to prominence after his poems on human rights were widely quoted during the street protests in AJK earlier in the month. As the protests turned violent, Shah was picked up. When his family filed a case in the court for his recovery, they were sent messages which said if they withdrew the case, he would return home.

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