Islamabad Court declares PoJK poet as 'enforced disappearance or missing person' until he returns home

Jun 11, 2024

Islamabad [Pakistan], June 11 : The Islamabad High Court's (IHC) Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani on Monday ordered that Kashmiri poet Ahmed Farhad be declared a case of "enforced disappearance or missing person" until he returns home safely, Pakistan-based Dawn reported.
A written order of court hearing on Friday stated, "Syed Farhad Ali Shah is declared an enforced disappearance/missing person until he reaches his home safely," according to Dawn report.
In the written order, Justice Kayani noted that when Farhad will reach his residence, the investigation officer of Islamabad's Lohi Bher police station was bound to record his statement "under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) before a judicial magistrate and proceed with the investigation as a result".
On the matters of combining all such cases of enforced disappearance sub judice before the IHC and forming a larger bench to hear them, Justice Kayani directed that the cases be presented before IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq "so he, using his administrative powers, may form a larger bench so that this matter of public interest can be dealt with in a better way," DAwn reported.
Ahmed Farhad was allegedly abducted from his home on May 15. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has called for the immediate release of the poet. A petition filed by the Pakistani poet's wife on the same day, requested the court that Farhad be produced before the court and action be taken against the culprits.
Justice Kayani had also framed 12 questions, the majority of them regarding the functions and obligations of spy agencies -- the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intelligence (MI) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB).
After multiple orders were issued by the Islamabad High Court, Farhad's case resurfaced on May 29, when the government told the court that the poet was in the custody of Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir police under the case registered the same day for obstructing public servant's duties.
Previously, a special court an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (PoJK) rejected the plea for bail of forcefully abducted Ahmed Farhad Shah. While rejecting the plea, the court said that the legal points stated by his counsel did not apply to the case at hand, according to a previous report by Dawn.
Previously, the poet and journalist Shah had recited poetry of resistance against Pakistani oppression in IHC despite being in chains during his transport. The footage which surfaced on social media showed him reciting his own couplet in court. Shah was reportedly abducted by Pakistan's intelligence services ISI and subjected to forced disappearance.
The 38-year-old Ahmed Farhad who belongs to the Bagh district of Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, is well-known for openly criticizing both the influential establishment and military of Pakistan. Recently, he reported on the protests and violence in Muzaffarabad.
For decades, countless journalists, activists, and civil society members in Pakistan and its occupied regions have been vocal against the oppression of the establishment. Journalists particularly have encountered numerous obstacles, including censorship and restrictions on travel within the country.
Ahmad Farhad's abduction and subsequent court appearance are emblematic of the broader challenges faced by journalists and activists in Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, an area rife with political tensions and human rights concerns.
Pakistan's intelligence agencies have been accused of involvement in forced disappearances and suppression of dissenting voices in the occupied regions. Such actions are part of a broader strategy to maintain control over the occupied territories and silence opposition.