Hemmed in between irate and increasingly frustrated judges and a recalcitrant administration, Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Malik Sikander announced on Tuesday his dramatic exit from public office in the middle of the Supreme Court hearing on the missing persons case.
Saying he wanted to live his life “with respect”; Sikander tendered his resignation following a round of tough questions from an apex court bench about the federal government’s lukewarm response to court orders.
The absence of the defence and interior secretaries and the prime minister’s principal secretary irked Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who remarked that there appeared to be some enmity with the court as its orders were blatantly flouted. “Why they did not turn up before the court?” the bench asked DAG Sikandar and Advocate General of Balochistan Amanullah Kanrani.
The bench, consisting of the chief justice as well as Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Jawwad S Khwaja, berated the DAG for not implementing court orders, in the presence of several relatives of missing people from interior Balochistan and nearby districts.
DAG Sikander then attempted to defend himself, saying neither he nor the concerned institutions had received the copies of these orders. He sought more time to convey the message to concerned federal institutions. Visibly angry, the chief justice, however, refused to grant more time and continue to chide the deputy attorney general, who later walked out from the proceedings.
When he returned, Sikander informed the court that he was throwing in the towel. “I want to spend my life with honour and respect, thus I am going to resign as deputy attorney general,” Malik Sikandar announced.
This dramatic declaration, however, did not deter the CJP from continuing to make his point – he said the court was working to secure the province and end the miseries of the families of missing persons waiting outside the court. “They all are suffering and the court will not sit in silence. The concerned institutions should have respected court orders.”
Advocate General Kanrani tried to placate the bench, saying that someone informed him late Monday night that the court cancelled its order. “The court will not cancel any order in the chambers. It was during its dark history that decisions were taken in chambers,” Justice Khwaja told the advocate general.
Chief Justice Chaudhry then switched his focus to the agencies, saying allegations were being levelled against the Frontier Corps (FC), Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Military Intelligence (MI) in missing persons’ cases. “It is really regrettable that there is a common perception that security forces and security agencies are behind practices of enforced disappearances,” the chief justice said.
FC DIG Farrukh Shehzad responded to his concerns, saying “the FC is making utmost efforts for the recovery of missing persons and cooperating with the police.”, adding that the FC set up an investigation cell in Quetta and is in contact with the ISI, MI and IB.
The court remained unimpressed, especially when Deputy Establishment Secretary Akhtar Aziz said only four police officers have so far joined their duties in Balochistan while 11 police officers have not yet reported. Chief Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Mohammad said two of these police officers belonged to the traffic police while one among the four is physically disabled. A thoroughly exasperated Justice Khilji said the court should have been informed that no one was interested in resolving the Balochistan issue.
The chief justice did not mince his words, adding that at least six provincial ministers should have been sacked following their involvement in making controversial statements as well as kidnappings in the province.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 23rd, 2012.
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