The Islamabad High Court (IHC) explicitly asked on Wednesday the army chief and the top spymaster to stop meddling in affairs of other departments.
Expressing serious concerns over the perception that a state within state existed in the country, IHC’s Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui said that as such, these elements conspired to manipulate the government and the judiciary.
Justice Siddiqui directed the secretaries of the ministry of interior and defence to place the court’s order before the chief of army staff (COAS) and director-general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), wherein he emphasised that secret agencies need to realise that they have to confine themselves within the boundaries of the constitution.
Citing the manner in which these elements marked specific cases to different judges, Justice Siddiqui said. “Everyone knows how (court) proceedings are manipulated, from where strings are pulled, and when power (is) wielded and manoeuvred to achieve the desired results.”
“It is a matter of great concern that even [after] benches are constituted, cases are marked to different benches on the direction of such elements.”
Persons at the helm of affairs of all institutions need to protect the hard-earned independence and take remedial steps to stop the invasion by personnel of any particular institutions or intelligence agencies, the judge observed.
He believed that it was high time to save the institution of the judiciary from all sorts of influence. “Otherwise we may not be able to answer to Almighty Allah about our authority and responsibilities, which will obviously be a big loss.”
According to him, playing the role of a silent spectator was in contradiction of the oath sworn by all judges under the Constitution.
If they (judges) fail in this regard and do nothing, the Pakistani nation and history would not remember them as good judges.
“It is expected from the top echelon of Pakistan Army that by appreciating the delicacy, sensitivity, and alarming situation, some remedial steps to stop their agencies from interfering in the affairs of other departments and to refrain from assuming roles not assigned by law shall be taken,” Justice Siddiqui’s order stated.
“Otherwise, these practices shall ruffle the people of Pakistan which, by no stretch of the imagination, is good for the prestigious institution of the Pakistan Army as well as Pakistan.”
This order was authored during the hearing of an application filed on behalf of a missing person, Rabnawaz.
Interestingly, Rabnawaz appeared before the court on Wednesday and testified that he had not been abducted by any person, but rather he had gone to Vehari of his own volition to visit his lands.
The judge noted that from his mannerism, body language and complexion, Rabnawaz appeared to be fearful and under immense pressure, therefore, his statement did not inspire confidence.
Citing Rabnawaz’s brother’s contention, the judge noted that the petitioner submitted that his brother was lying and he had been abducted by personnel of the agencies and subjected to physical and mental torture.
The court also acknowledged that the petitioner actually knew that his brother was being harassed and threatened with dire consequences and told to follow the exact orders of his abductors without any deviation.
Regretting what he termed a “sorry situation”, Justice Siddiqui stated that it was a challenge to the state of Pakistan that the police appeared to be tight-lipped, “helpless and not in a position to divulge the truth.”
“Abductions of ordinary citizens…have become routine in [Islamabad], but instead of performing its statutory duty, local police comes up with a stereotypical stance that [these] persons may have disappeared on their own…such statements are always made in cases in which allegations are levelled against agencies.”
The order adds that “local police is in league with the mighty agencies who have disrupted the civic fibre of the country by establishing a state [within a] state,” the order read.
Everyone, the judge noted, needed to rise to this challenge, otherwise, Pakistan would face a crisis and disastrous situation if such practices persisted.
“The (secret) agencies are of the state of Pakistan, therefore, (they) need to realise that they have to confine themselves within the limits of the organic law – the Constitution – and the parameters of the law of the land and must stop interfering in the affairs of other institutions (such as the) judiciary, executive, media, and other departments … (who) have nothing to do with the defence and or the security of Pakistan,” he maintained.
Moreover, Justice Siddiqui stated, “It is a matter of shame that allegedly persons [working for] the ISI are involved in corrupt practices.”
The court order also noted that SP Investigation Zubair Ahmed Sheikh had miserably failed to discharge his duty and appeared to be under pressure from “a particular corner”, as he withheld truth before the court.
“Such police officers do not deserve to be on such high ranks and must not be assigned any delicate investigation…Even today, he did not answer [any of] the questions of the court based on truth and facts.