Pakistan's Supreme Court today directed authorities to trace 11 men who have been reported missing from a jail in Rawalpindi after a court acquitted them of charges of involvement in several terror attacks, including an attempt on the life of former President Pervez Musharraf.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry directed Punjab Chief Secretary Nasir Mehmood Khosa to trace the men by November 10 and report back to it. The order was issued while the bench was hearing a petition filed by one Atiq-ur-Rehman. Rehman had alleged in his petition that the men – Niaz Ahmed, Mazhar-ul-Haq, Shafiqur Rehman, Mohammad Aamir, Abdul Majid, Abdul Basit, Abdul Saboor, Shafique Ahmed, Said Arab, Gul Roze and Muhammad Tehseenullah – had gone missing from Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi after their acquittal.
The anti-terrorism court had acquitted them of several terrorism-related charges, including a plot to attack Musharraf, possession of suicide jackets and attacks on military installations, including the Kamra airbase.
Following their acquittal, the district administration issued an order for the men to be detained for a month. However, the men approached the Lahore High Court and got this order vacated. Shortly after that, they were reported missing from the prison. Media reports have suggested that the men are being held without charge by intelligence agencies though there has been no official word in this regard.
During today's hearing, Chief Justice Chaudhry asked Chief Secretary Khosa to justify the Punjab Home Secretary's admission of his helplessness in tracing the missing men.
Khosa sought more time for tracing them.
The Chief Justice also snubbed Additional Attorney General K K Agha by dismissing his statement that the government had contacted all departments, including intelligence agencies and they had said that the men were not in their custody. The court later adjourned the matter till November 10.