The Supreme Court warned on Thursday that Balochistan is staring down a “constitutional breakdown” as the case of missing persons drags on interminably.
In his remarks at Thursday’s hearing Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said the sense of insecurity in the province was so acute that people were scared even to name those involved in enforced disappearances.
At the previous day’s hearing, the court had summoned Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani and Home Minister Zafarullah Zehri, but both the ministers failed to appear before the bench and said they were busy meeting international delegations in Islamabad.
“We wanted to inform the chief minister about the deteriorating situation in Balochistan because he is bound to protect the citizens under the constitution.”
DIG Operations Qazi Wahid told the court that Zehri had not disclosed the names of ministers allegedly involved in kidnapping for ransom cases, on which Justice Khilji Arif Hussain remarked: “We can take action against the home minister in accordance with the law if he was lying earlier.” Earlier, the home minister had claimed that he knew of some provincial ministers who were involved in the kidnappings.
Frontier Corps Deputy Inspector General Farrukh Shehzad said the FC had held a meeting with the ISI, MI and other security agencies about the missing persons’ issue. “All the FC commandants have been tasked to recover the missing persons.”
Although the police was unable to give a timeframe for recovering the abducted men, the court directed the IGP and FC official to produce all missing persons before the court by today (Friday). “Police should use all means to recover the missing persons,” the chief justice said.
Law enforcement agencies have failed to produce a single missing person before the court so far, despite repeated instructions.
Justice Tariq Pervez said he did not see the political leadership of Balochistan taking interest in addressing the issue. “Bureaucracy is running the affairs of Balochistan since the political leadership is not present in the province.”
Meanwhile, the bench finished recording statements of 65 families of missing persons. Majority of the relatives accused the Frontier Corps and security agencies for the illegal abductions.
“The Frontier Corps, ISI, MI and IB informed the court that the missing persons are not in their custody. The police also say they do not know the whereabouts of these people,” said Justice Chaudhry.
“Look at these children who have not seen their fathers and brothers for years. I think police officials have stones in their chests instead of hearts. A human being cannot sleep after witnessing the misery of these people,” he said, pointing towards the young boys and girls standing in their school uniforms besides their mothers.
The efforts will not be fruitful until security agencies and the police cooperate with the bench, he added.
The court directed the IGP to submit a progress report. “The people accuse the FC or security agencies of illegal arrests, but the police have to investigate these cases,” the chief justice said.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2012.