ISLAMABAD - The federal government on Saturday presented six undeclared internees and their relatives amid tight security before the one-man commission, constituted by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Friday.

Justice Amir Hani Muslim held in-camera proceeding of the commission in courtroom No. 6 of the Supreme Court. Attorney General Munir A Malik on the direction of the court assisted the honourable judge.

The sources shared with The Nation that the commission cross-examined the prisoners and their relatives to confirm the identity of the internees. They said that attorney general also held a meeting with Justice Amir Hani before the hearing.

The law enforcement officials did not allow anyone, particularly the media persons to interact with the internees or their relatives. They were brought in police vehicles which were allowed to enter the apex court building. The faces of the internees were covered to protect their identity.

Federal Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Friday told the a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice that there were different categories of the 35 detainees, out of them seven were free and could be produced in the court, two were in the internment centre, one had gone to Saudi Arabia, two had died natural death.

He further told there were five persons whose detail was incomplete, but would be firmed up in a few days; while three persons were in the North and South Waziristan. He said eight had crossed the border and were now in Kunar province of Afghanistan, while the detail of seven including Yasin Shah was not available.

The court on Friday had directed the minister to procure the attendance of one or two relatives of the 7 missing persons, who the government was ready to present, to verify the identity of internees. The chief justice said if need be then Justice Amir Hani and the AGP could cross-examine them. The defence ministry was also ordered to produce Attaullah before the commission along with the lockup record.

The court ordered that the relatives of the two missing persons, about whom the ministry stance was that they have died natural death, be produced so that they could confirm the cause of deaths and tell if they wanted autopsy.

AFP adds: “Six missing persons, who were presented in the court today, have been identified,” Muneer A Malik, attorney general of Pakistan, told AFP. Speaking after the proceedings an official of the defence ministry said they had obeyed the court’s order to present the missing persons. “We presented these people to obey the court orders and will present more people before the court on Monday or Tuesday to further act on the court directives,” Arif Nazir, a senior official of ministry of defence, told AFP.

Defence of Human Rights (DHR), an organisation formed by the relatives of the missing persons, says that around 2,000 people have disappeared from across the country.

Last month, a group of over two dozen people – mostly women – marched 700 kilometres (430 miles) from Quetta, the capital of the southwestern Balochistan province, to the southern port city of Karachi to register their protest over disappearance of their relatives.

Pakistan’s Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who retires on December 12, has actively persued Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies, which are often seen as untouchable, demanding they explain the fate of missing persons believed to have disappeared into their custody.

Earlier on Friday, our staff reporter reported that under intense pressure from the Supreme Court the government Dec 6 provided the details of 35 missing persons as part of the “good news” it promised a day ago. However, the court perceived it as not good enough and once again ordered that all missing persons be produced.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif submitted a confidential report about the missing prisoners in a sealed envelope on Friday that was opened in the court. The minister claimed that none of the missing persons were in military’s custody and said “we cannot disclose their identity as it will endanger their lives”.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry expressed dissatisfaction and questioned how the authorities got the information about the eight internees living in Kunar. The CJP termed the statement of Malakand Division Judicial Lockup Superintendent Atta Ullah correct. He said: “The statement of Atta Ullah is correct as it had not been rebutted by the Defence Ministry officials in whose presence it was recorded.

Atta Ullah had told the court that two army officers had taken away 35 prisoners from his custody. Also, the chief justice said the additional attorney general had informed the court that Yasin Shah was in the internment centre and would be produced, but now the Defence authorities were calling it misstatement. He said Defence Ministry’s Director (Legal) Group Capt (r) Irfan and Maj Muhammad Ali had been attending the court proceedings.