As the Supreme Court continues its effort to recover persons who have gone missing in Balochistan, it has noted that the province had turned into a kind of war zone —— a situation that adds to the chaos prevailing there and consequently makes it difficult to recover those who have disappeared. Clearly frustrated, the three-member bench of the Court, headed by the Chief Justice, has shown its displeasure at the Frontier Constabulary (FC) in its last hearing and asked who had given it the right to pick up persons at their homes.
The Chief Justice was also displeased with the IGFC’s non-appearance in Court despite having been summoned. At a previous hearing, the Court had shown similar displeasure at the failure of the heads of the ISI and the MI to appear in it, and noted that had police officials possessed the courage to speak the truth, the task of recovering missing persons would have been easier.
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 those responsible for these disappearances. To do so would be to invite trouble. This issue of secrecy has emerged as a key factor in our failure to recover missing persons. While human rights monitors have repeatedly pointed to their involvement, there are few who dare question them. People, too, are apparently being kept in the dark, with the advocate-general Balochistan seeking an in-camera discussion for a briefing on some cases. The Court has agreed to the suggestion, expressing the hope that this will help recover missing persons.
What is most frightening of all is that even as the hearings continue, the pattern of disappearances has also continued. This is evident by the fact that in a previous hearing the Supreme Court was told that seven people who were picked up in Quetta had reappeared at their homes a few days ago. No doubt they, like others before them, will have been asked to maintain silence about their disappearance. Meanwhile, other people continue to be picked up; the basic problem remains unchanged and this is not a comforting thought at all.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 14th, 2012.
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