ISLAMABAD   -   Prime Minister Sheh­baz Sharif Friday as­sured the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that he would resolve the is­sue of missing persons by making all-out ef­forts for their recovery.

The Prime Minister made the remarks before the single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Mi­nallah during the hear­ing of identical petitions related to the recovery of six missing persons.

The PM said that he had been busy visit­ing flood-affected areas and added but he did not want to hide behind any lame excuses.

He further said that he cannot say that all of the missing persons would be recovered but they left no stone un­turned in this regard. He assured the court to solve the missing peo­ple’s case and said that he was answerable to the people of Pakistan and Allah Almighty.

On the last hearing, Justice Athar had di­rected PM Shehbaz to ensure that the miss­ing persons whose cas­es were being heard in the IHC to be produced before the court on Sep­tember 9 and warned that the failure to do so would require the pre­mier to appear in per­son on the said date and give an explanation. During the hearing, the IHC Chief Justice re­marked that it was the respon­sibility of the state to redress the sufferings of the victim fam­ilies. He added that the court had summoned the Prime Min­ister because it was a very seri­ous issue and being heard by this bench for several months.

He further said that the re­sponse of the state into the mat­ter had not been as per its re­sponsibility. The judge said that a chief executive ruled this coun­try for nine years and he admit­ted proudly in his book that he sold the citizens abroad.

Justice Athar said that the mat­ter was sent to the federal cabi­net and a cabinet committee was formed but this matter was not only about the formation of the committee. He further said that the Commission on Missing Per­sons was set up but its proceed­ings that came out were very disappointing. He continued that the families of missing per­sons are sitting here and they re­vealed a lot of things about the commission and Defense of Hu­man Rights in Pakistan Chairper­son Amina Masood Janjua had also told much about the com­mission to the court.

He remarked that disappear­ance of people was the biggest form of torture and the court had no other option but to ask the executive. He asked that what should they do when the state expressed ignorance as who made the citizens disappeared.

The IHC CJ emphasized that the state’s responsibility should be fulfilled and expressed his re­gret saying that in cases where missing persons were recovered, no further action was taken. He said that the political leadership has to solve this issue. He further emphasized that there should not be an impression that law enforcement agencies were pick­ing up citizens.

He asked that who should be held responsible in the missing persons’ case. The PM said that it was his duty to resolve the is­sue. At this, Justice Athar ob­served that there were several issues of governance that could only be resolved once the Con­stitution is restored. The IHC CJ termed the practice of making people go missing the biggest form of torture and a deviation from the Constitution. PM Sheh­baz told the court that a child of a missing person had asked him to reunite him with his father. He said, “This sentence is very dis­turbing for me.”

The Prime Minister expressed the resolve to present undeni­able evidence to the court saying that facts speak for themselves.

Justice Athar observed that the committees were set up, assur­ances were given but no work was done. The Prime Minister stat­ed that while he could not guar­antee the recovery of all miss­ing persons but he would leave no stone unturned in this matter. He maintained that according to the Constitution, if a citizen goes missing, the state is responsible. He added that making people go missing is akin to violating the Constitution. He further said that before the court’s decision in the case, the executive would have to make sure that no more persons would go missing.

The IHC Chief Justice censured the government for having no control over subsidiary institu­tions. He said that as the chief ex­ecutive, the responsibility to ad­dress enforced disappearances lies with him. He remarked that action should be taken against those who have violated the Constitution. He said that no en­tity was above the Constitution in this country and this court would ensure civil supremacy, as well as the supremacy of the Constitution. He added that the state has agencies and other re­sources; go and find them.

During the hearing, the law minister informed the court that the PM was scheduled to meet United Nations Secretary Gener­al Antonio Guterres at 10.30am today. At this, the court allowed PM Shehbaz to leave the hearing stating that it is your job to end enforced disappearances.