ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to make a bombproof wall or shift its headquarters elsewhere, allowing the premier spy agency two months to present alternate security plans for the agency’s headquarters in the federal capital’s Aabpara area.
Earlier in the day, a three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandiyal and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, resumed the hearing of a petition filed by the Ministry of Defence against an Islamabad High Court (IHC) decision directing authorities to remove barricades in front of the security agency’s HQ.
“Intelligence agency is equipped with resources to move the barricades within a month,” Justice Nisar remarked.
The CJP further said that the court can’t grant more than four weeks to clear the street as the top court cannot maintain different standards for the ISI and general public.
“The intelligence agency cannot be given liberty to act on their own,” he further observed.
The court then summoned General Faiz Hamid, ISI’s Counter Intelligence director general, who appeared before the bench after a break.
When Justice Nisar remarked that generals should not hesitate to appear in court, Gen Hamid replied that he was appearing in court for the first time. “I am enjoying this,” he said.
The chief justice said that the agency had sought eight weeks to present the security plan. “The apex court had issued orders for removal of barricades before the IHC took up the case,” he added.
Assuring compliance to the directives, Gen Hamid sought a six-week extension. However, the top judge granted the intelligence agency eight weeks and asked for a report on compliance of the order to submitted in two months.
At the last hearing on Wednesday, the top court had suspended an earlier IHC directive to the ISI to clear the roadblocks on Khayaban-i-Suharwardy within a week, directing the country’s top spy agency to specify a date by which it would remove the blockades from the main road in front of its headquarters at Aabpara Chowk in the federal capital.
Justice Nisar had observed that the spy agency is not above the law and it should have complied with the top court’s earlier directives pertaining to roadblocks, however, he had observed that the IHC had acted beyond its mandate by taking suo motu notice of the issue.
Earlier in March, the top court had taken notice of Capital Development Authority blocking the road and had ordered the civic agency to explain why and on whose orders Khayaban-i-Suharwardy had been blocked for the past few years.
“Blocking of main roads in the name of security cannot be allowed,” the chief justice had remarked, adding that everyone is equal before the law.