ISI challenged by Pakistan's highest court


Pakistani policemen escort a man, seen draped in a shawl, after an appearance at the Supreme Court in Islamabad on February 13, 2012. Seven men allegedly held by Pakistan's feared intelligence services on February appeared in court, an unprecedented development following orders from the country's highest court. AFP PHOTO/Farooq NAEEM



Pakistan’s supreme court forced the authorities to present seven men who were believed to be in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence’s custody after disappearing four years ago, said the Guardian.

The move was especially significant as the highest court in Pakistan exerted its pressure on the country’s feared and powerful spy agency, which has largely operated unchallenged and is viewed as “above the law.”

The seven missing men reportedly hobbled into the courtroom, in pain and in poor physical condition, according to CNN. Many of them covered their faces and at least two appeared to carry urine drainage bags. Detainee Abdul Basit said, “We didn't have proper food and (were) never offered a doctor while in custody.”

The court’s chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry ordered a full medical examination for the prisoners, according to the AFP. The court also ordered the ISI and Military Intelligence to submit details of the detainees cases by the next hearing which is scheduled for March 1.

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Most of the men went missing in late 2007 or early 2008, according to the Guardian, seemingly picked up for suspected involvement in terrorism, and their association with Islamabad’s radical Red Mosque. Four of the men originally associated with the case turned up dead in the last few months, making the case urgent for the lives of the remaining seven, said the Guardian.

The New York Times noted that this case and another challenging the ISI, “go to the heart of the powers that have given the ISI such an ominous reputation among Pakistanis: its ability to detain civilians at will, and its freedom to meddle in electoral politics.”

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