LAHORE - The Lahore High Court (LHC) Tuesday directed federal ministries – Foreign Affairs, Interior and Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development – to file reply to a petition about Pakistani citizens on death row in Iranian jails.

During the proceedings, the court took serious note of non-filing of reply by the respondents despite passage of a period of five months.

Justice Shahid Waheed heard the petition, filed by Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), seeking details of Pakistanis imprisoned in Iran and the actions taken by the government in order to get their death sentences reviewed under recently amended Iranian drug laws.

Reacting to a request for grant of more time for filing the reply, the court observed that there were so many Pakistanis languishing in Iran's jails. "Don't you care about them?" he asked.

The court directed the respondent ministries for filing their replies and a list of Pakistanis on Iran's death row in two weeks.

"No further adjournment will be granted after this period," the court added. The petitioner had requested the court to direct the government to make immediate and forceful representations, as required by law, on behalf of Pakistani citizens on death row in Iran, both to secure reviews of their death sentence under the Amendment, and to ensure their extradition to Pakistan. The JPP submitted that new Iranian drug laws entitled prisoners sentenced to death under previous standards to filing reviews; however, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Pakistan embassy in Tehran had not taken any steps to facilitate the Pakistani prisoners.

In January 2018, the Supreme Court of Iran announced that those sentenced to death for drug crimes would have their sentences commuted only if they apply for such a commutation.

The Pakistanis sentenced to death in Iran under previous standards faced imminent execution if applications for review were not filed on their behalf, it added.

Remand extended

An accountability court extended judicial remand of Lahore Development Authority's former director general Ahad Cheema and others till September 25  in Ashiana-i-Iqbal housing scam. Earlier, the jail officials produced the accused Ahad Cheema, Bismillah Engineering's proprietor Shahid Shafiq Faridi, former chief executive officer of Punjab Land Development Company Imtiaz Haider, consultant Bilal Qidwai before Accountability Court Judge Syed Najamul Hassan on expiry of their remand term.  The court took strict notice that complete record had not been provided yet and concerned investigation officer and others were also not present. Subsequently, the court issued show cause notices to director general NAB Lahore and investigation officer and directed to submit complete record in two hours.

However, on request of the NAB prosecutor, the court withdraw the show cause notices and extended the remand till Sept 25 with a direction to NAB officials for submission of complete record of the case on next hearing.

The court also directed NAB officials to provide readable copies of reference to the accused.