In a pivotal legal development, the Lahore High Court (LHC) has kept the nation in suspense as it reserved its verdict on a petition demanding the recovery of Barrister Hassaan Khan Niazi, the nephew of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan. The petition also seeks permission for a visit to Niazi in the custody of the military.
Advocate Abuzar Salman Khan Niazi, representing petitioner Hafeezullah Niazi, the father of the detained lawyer, presented the case before the court. He highlighted that 45 days had elapsed since the “abduction” of his client’s son. Remarkably, the advocate revealed that around 104 individuals were currently in military custody concerning cases from May 9.
The council emphasized that all detainees, except Barrister Niazi, had been granted the opportunity to meet their families while in army custody. He brought attention to a similar case before the LHC Rawalpindi bench, where a woman was allowed to visit her husband held in military custody.
During the proceedings, Justice Sultan Tanvir Ahmad inquired with Additional Advocate General (AAG) Ghulam Sarwar Nahang about the possibility of arranging a meeting between the petitioner and his son. The AAG mentioned media reports indicating that the petitioner had approached the Supreme Court, implying that further legal proceedings in the high court might not be viable.
In response, the petitioner expressed his limited understanding of the technicalities involved in the case. He passionately stated, “All I know is that my son is still on physical remand, and I want to see him.” Drawing a poignant comparison, he invoked the recent recovery of anchorperson Imran Riaz, who was released on the direction of the LHC, and offered, “Get my son recovered as well, and I will say he had gone to northern areas on a picnic.”
Following the arguments presented in court, Justice Ahmad decided to reserve the verdict on the petition.
In the previous hearing held last month, AAG Nahang had informed the court that visiting a suspect held in military custody was not permitted by law.
Barrister Hassaan Niazi’s confinement in military custody is linked to his alleged involvement in the attack on the corps commander’s house that occurred on May 9. Notably, the army had requested the police to transfer Barrister Niazi’s custody, as he had been declared a proclaimed offender under Section 549(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).
According to a government report, the absconding lawyer is implicated in offenses under the Official Secrets Act, 1923, in conjunction with sections 2(1)(d) and 59(4) of the Pakistan Army Act, 1952. These charges are subject to trial by court-martial.
The report also detailed that Mr. Niazi hails from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and was handed over to military authorities on August 17.
The petitioner’s counsel vehemently contended that the lawyer had been unlawfully transferred to military custody, as he should have been presented before the anti-terrorism court as a procedural prerequisite.
This development has garnered significant attention in Pakistan, as it underscores the balance between civil and military jurisdiction and the rights of detainees under military custody.