The Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry got very much upset at the failure of the ISI and the MI to produce seven of the 11 missing prisoners picked up outside Adialia jail in 2010. The Intelligence agencies had detained them after their release by a court of law over lack of evidence because they were allegedly involved in GHQ attack.

Counsel for DG ISI and DG MI Raja Irshad’s statement that four prisoners were hospitalised at Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar and three at an internment centre in Parachinar caused annoyance amongst the judges. The court’s anger was not misplaced because four other prisoners had already died in custody, although Mr Irshad maintained that they died of ‘natural causes.’ Our sleuths could be accused of keeping suspects in harsh conditions of secret detention facilities, enough to induce natural death. The court that has been hearing the case for quite some time appears to be familiar with the agencies’ delaying tactics. The Chief Justice asked the agencies’ counsel to name the ‘authority who dared to violate the court’s directive.’ The court then gave both the intelligences agencies’ heads as well as Chief Secretary Khyber Pakhtunkhwa the deadline of February 13 to present the seven missing persons ‘at any cost.’ The Supreme Court’s activism is a ray of hope for rule of law especially when it comes to reining in the all powerful intelligence agencies. The practice of picking up persons arbitrarily and that too without proof or an FIR is against the law. It constitutes a gross violation of one of the basic fundamental rights of the citizens. The Interior Ministry itself has confirmed that there are 1,100 missing persons. There have been cases of rendition like Dr Aafia Sidduqi’s clandestine arrest and transfer to US authorities. It is now compulsory for both the intelligence agencies to bow before the Supreme Court and obey its orders. If the agencies have enough evidence that these seven suspects are actually involved in the terrorist attack including the one on GHQ, they must present it to the court. This would also help restore the image of the agencies as well.

There is on the other side of the spectrum the PPP government that has greatly undermined its standing in the country owing to its persistent defiance of the Supreme Court’s orders. The intelligence agencies which are organs of the armed forces must refrain from taking a course of action that might erode their credibility.