Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah remarked on Wednesday that the responsibility of missing persons rests on the prime minister and members of the federal cabinet. “A person going missing is a crime against humanity. The prime minister and members of the cabinet are there to serve the people of the country. The state’s response towards recovering missing persons is pathetic,” Justice Minallah remarked while hearing a petition filed by Rana Mehmood Ikram, father of journalist Mudassar Mehmood, who had reportedly gone missing on August 19, 2018. Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari and Interior Secretary Yousuf Naseem Khokhar appeared for the hearing. Additional attorney general Qasim Wadud and Deputy Attorney General Syed Tayyab Shah were also present in the courtroom. During the hearing of the case, Justice Minallah said that it was the responsibility of the state to protect the lives of citizens. He told the minister that she had been summoned because the state was not “visible” in tackling the issue of enforced disappearances. He said that if a person comes to court stating that a loved one has disappeared, it means that the state has failed. He remarked that the state being accused of kidnapping a citizen is a ‘serious crime’. He stated that if a public office holder’s loved one disappears, the entire state machinery would be mobilised. “The government’s response should also be the same when a common citizen disappears.” Advocate Usman Warraich appeared on behalf of the missing journalist’s father. However, Advocate Imaan Mazari was not present as she was unwell. Justice Minallah said that the court was informed that the missing journalist’s wife had also passed away. “All agencies are under the control of the federal government. This is not a matter of summary or reports. You need to satisfy the children and parents of the missing person. The state has a responsibility to take care of the children and listen to the affected family,” he told Mazari. Justice Minallah told the minister to take the missing person’s family to meet the prime minister and members of the federal cabinet. “The premier will hear them out. [But] first we want to complete the process for paying the compensation, which will be completed by next week,” she said. “Our government considers enforced disappearances a grave crime. No one can be allowed to make someone disappear in a democracy,” she said. The IHC CJ told Mazari to ensure that the missing person’s family comes back “satisfied” after meeting the prime minister. “The responsibility of missing persons falls on the prime minister and the members of the cabinet. Instead of the state paying the compensation, why are the prime minister and cabinet members not paying it so that this issue can be eradicated?” he asked. The IHC CJ said that there could be a law that would penalise the chief executive in case someone went missing during their tenure. “If someone went missing in 2002 then why not impose fines on those responsible then, the then chief executive,” he said, adding that someone should be held responsible for the practice of enforced disappearances. “Half of our lives have been spent in undemocratic regimes and this is their doing,” he added. At present, everyone, including the police and ministries, has gotten a free hand,” he said. The court ordered the government to satisfy Mudassar Naaru’s family by the next hearing and directed Mazari to submit a reply at the next hearing on December 13.