As the Supreme Court continues its effort to recover persons who have gone missing in Balochistan, it has noted that the province has in fact turned into a kind of war zone — a situation which, of course, adds to the chaos prevailing there and consequently the difficulty in recovering those who have disappeared. Clearly frustrated by the failures of the authorities in this effort, the three-member bench of the court headed by the chief justice — while hearing the case at its Quetta registry — has given the chief secretary of the province, the inspector-general police and the director-general of the Frontier Corps a deadline of two weeks within which to produce the missing persons. The court was also displeased by the failures of the heads of the ISI and the MI to appear before it and pointed out that if police officials had the courage to speak the truth, the task of recovering the missing persons may become an easier one.
We all know why the police are reluctant to speak out. The distortions of power that exist in our country mean there are few who would be willing to speak out against the agencies. To do so would be to invite trouble. While human rights monitors have repeatedly pointed to their involvement, there are few who dare to question them. This issue of secrecy has emerged as a key factor in our failure to recover missing persons. People, too, have been asked to be kept in the dark, with the advocate-general of Balochistan seeking an in-camera discussion for a briefing on some cases. The court has agreed expressing the hope that this will help recover others.
What is most frightening is that even as the hearings continue, the pattern of disappearances continues unchanged. During the hearing, the Supreme Court was told seven people who were taken away from Quetta had re-appeared at their homes a few days ago. No doubt they, like others before them, will have been asked to maintain silence. Meanwhile, other people continue to be taken away and the basic problem remains unchanged.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2012.
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