KARACHI - Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Thursday ordered the Inspector General of Frontier Corps (IGFC) in Balochistan to appear before the court at any cost on Friday and produce missing persons, warning that a case would be registered against him in case of non-appearance.

A four-member bench of apex court headed by Chief Justice Chaudhry was hearing the missing persons case at SC’s Karachi Registry. Defence Minister Khwaja Asif, along with the attorney general and Balochistan representative for missing persons Nasarullah Baloch appeared before the court.

The bench expressed annoyance over the absence of FC officials and questioned that why certain 35 missing persons have not been produced before the court, as ordered. The CJP ordered that IGFC must produce the missing persons tomorrow (on Friday), or a case would be registered against him and the court would ensure the police arrest him.

The chief justice asked if the prime minister of the country watched television, as the families of the missing persons had walked from Quetta to Karachi. He said it was embarrassing that women and children had to come all the way here to seek justice.

In response, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said he would meet the families of the missing persons and take responsibility for resolving the matter. Asif said that 738 missing persons had been recovered in last four months and it would take months not years to find the remaining ones. He tried to reassure the court that government was determined to find out the whereabouts of the missing persons and they will soon be recovered.

Expressing dissatisfaction over the progress of the case, the chief justice said people had pinned hopes on the new government but the situation has not changed. Quoting instances where many people were abducted with the help of helicopters, the larger bench stated that the name of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) keeps coming up in the case time and again. The bench further said that Frontier Corps is responsible for the law and order situation in Balochistan and asked the IGFC to appear before the court and explain the security situation.

The chief justice remarked that federal and Balochistan government seem helpless before the FC, adding it appears that the FC was running the government affairs. The court giving one more day, asked the defence minister for producing missing persons before the court and adjourned the hearing.

Also on Thursday, during proceedings of the Karachi law and order case at the Karachi registry, the Supreme Court called for mandatory verification from the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) for purchasing mobile phone SIMs. The court directed that laws be formulated which limit the sale of SIMs to five against one national identity card. It also ordered cellular companies to provide a temporary solution by Friday which prevents criminals from using illegal SIMs.

The PTA chairman informed the apex court that there were 125 million active SIMs in the country. Chief Justice Chaudhry remarked that service providers were conducting business by issuing unverified SIMs and the sale of SIMs from unlicensed outlets should be stopped. Justice Saqib Nisar remarked that in several areas of the country including Lahore, active SIMs could be purchased for Rs50.

Sindh Additional IGP Shahid Hayat presented the Chinese made machine which was being used to activate SIMs before the Supreme Court. He informed the court that this machine was being used to activate SIMs which had been deactivated. Hayat added that during the targeted operation, 3,000 active SIMs had been recovered. He said the SIMs were issued on data obtained from voter lists. Hayat told the court that if this issue was resolved, 50 percent of kidnapping for ransom cases could be solved.