The Supreme Court’s unwavering stance on the issue of missing persons in Balochistan seems to be finally paying off.
On Friday, the Supreme Court, hearing a case on Balochistan’s deteriorating law and order situation in Quetta, was informed that the police registered cases against serving Frontier Corps (FC) officials for their involvement in ‘missing’ persons’ cases.
The police submitted the copies of the FIRs in which an FC major and colonel were nominated for allegedly abducting two persons from Khuzdar and Wadh.
Justice Khilji Arif Hussain noted the considerable step, saying that earlier people were merely levelling allegations against security forces, whereas now a major and colonel have been nominated in FIRs.
However, Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry remained unsatisfied with the slow progress and gave a final ultimatum to the police: recover missing persons in two weeks, or else face action under the Constitution.
The chief justice maintained that senior police officials were not showing any courage in disclosing who was behind enforced disappearances.
However, he toned down his criticism when a police official broke down in tears before the court, saying, “We are receiving death threats and are being pressurised.”
The chief justice replied that, while he has respect for security personnel, the court too has been left with no other choice.
Balochistan Advocate General Amanullah Kanrani informed that court that at least facts are now being disclosed. “Law enforcement agencies have taken initiatives to restore peace in the province,” he said.
3 missing persons recovered
The court was also informed that three missing persons had reached their homes on Thursday. Mohammad Karim, Safar Khan and Dawa Khan resurfaced in Quetta, and, according their relatives, they were in the custody of the FC.
Relatives told the court that seven people were abducted from Marwar area in Mach Town of Bolan district in April.
The Supreme Court directed the home secretary to seek help from the FC for the recovery of the four other missing persons within two weeks.
Meanwhile, lawyers submitted a list of 45 more missing persons before Supreme Court Treasury Bench.
“It is regrettable that there has been no encouraging result since we started hearings in Quetta,” Chief Justice Chaudhry told the police.
The advocate general, meanwhile, said that the government had found important evidence in the cases of 10 missing persons, which could not be disclosed in the open court. The court directed him to provide the information inside the chamber.
The chief justice further expressed resentment over the absence of the sector in-charge of security agencies despite being summoned by the court.
“If the Balochistan Inspector General of Police can appear before the court, why can’t the sector in-charge of security agencies?” he asked. He added that heads of security agencies should come forward and extinguish the fire that has engulfed rest of the province.
Justice Tariq Pervez said the chief minister should have also appeared before the court considering the situation of his province.
The court said it had issued previous orders in the case to President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, the Balochistan chief minister, and the defence and home secretaries; however, there was no response.
It has become difficult to figure out who the court should ask to pay serious attention to Balochistan since no one appears sincere, the bench remarked.
The hearing, which lasted for nine hours, was adjourned for two weeks.
Recovery of bodies will be stopped within a week: Malik
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that the recovery of mutilated bodies of missing persons will be stopped within a week, while claiming that restoration of law and order in the province is the top priority of the government.
“Striving for the recovery of missing persons by the judiciary is encouraging,” he said, while inaugurating a passport office in Khuzdar district on Friday.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 5th, 2012.