Balochistan unrest: Apex court issues ominous warning

Published: May 24, 2012

" The judiciary is an organ of the state. It’ll not allow violation of the Constitution. We want to save Pakistan, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. PHOTO: FILE

QUETTA: 

Irked by the apparent apathy of the government towards Balochistan, which is sliding into chaos, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry issued an ominous warning on Wednesday:  If the prime minister doesn’t take steps to improve the law and order, the Constitution will declare a state of emergency.

“The judiciary is an organ of the state. It’ll not allow violation of the Constitution. We want to save Pakistan,” Justice Chaudhry said while heading a three-judge bench of the apex court hearing a case on the volatility of security situation in Balochistan.

“Why don’t we implement the Constitution” before the Army imposes martial law, he said.

Attempts by the prime minister’s principal secretary and the defence secretary to list the steps taken by the government to stabilise the province failed to impress the chief justice. Has the premier ever summoned Balochistan’s governor or chief minister over the security situation, he asked.

“We respect the prime minister. But if he doesn’t take steps for the improvement of law and order, the Constitution will declare emergency and take other steps as well,” Justice Chaudhry said.

Defence Secretary Nargis Sethi informed the court that she has met with officials from the Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence, and that the head of the former agency was ready to brief the court on the Balochistan situation.

Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary Khushnood Lashari told the court that Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad has been posted as Balochistan chief secretary, while the federating units have been empowered politically and economically under the 18th constitutional amendment.

He added that the government has also announced Aghaz-e-Haqooq-e-Balochistan package for the betterment of the people.

The bench, however, observed that the prime minister ought to have paid more attention to the precarious situation in the province. Lashari assured the court that he would submit the prime minister’s stance at the next hearing.

After this, the hearing was adjourned till June 1.

Govt reaction

Over in Islamabad, Premier Gilani told a cabinet meeting that his government holds the apex court in high esteem. He directed his principal secretary and the cabinet secretary to appear before the court in Quetta.

However, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said that the judiciary has no authority to declare a state of emergency as it is solely the prerogative of the executive.

Law and order situation

Quoting a statement by Salauddin Mengal, Justice Chaudhry said that the law and order situation in the province was so grave that one would not find a single Pakistani flag or the national anthem being played even 10 miles away from Quetta.

“I will not be holding this post tomorrow. Similarly, governments come and go but the country is here to stay. We should realise the [gravity of] the situation,” he remarked.

While an order was being read out about the recovery of some missing persons, the chief justice turned to Balochistan’s advocate general Balochistan and asked who had detained those people?

“The bench should be informed who is behind picking up people. We are here to extinguish the fire that has engulfed the province,” Justice Khilji Arif Hussain remarked.

Balochistan home minister issued notice

The apex court bench also issued notices to Balochistan Home Minister Zafarullah Zehri for allegedly abducting a man.

One Asha Bibi had submitted a petition accusing Zehri of abducting her son in 2004 and demanding Rs50 million for his release.

The court granted the police more time to investigate the incident and directed them to submit a detailed report at the next hearing.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2012.

on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook

Reader Comments (13)

  • Imran
    May 24, 2012 - 6:27AM

    I’m speechless on the legal expertise of our Chief Justice, who seems to be breaking the records of Justice Munir, Justice Anwarul Haq, Justice Naseem Hassan Shah, Justice, Saeed uz Zamman Siddiqui, Justice Qayum, and Justice Khawaja Shareef all combined.

    Recommend

  • Humayun
    May 24, 2012 - 7:59AM

    Too little, too late !!!

    Recommend

  • Mirza
    May 24, 2012 - 8:21AM

    All of a sudden the PCO judges declare that they are the constitution. They could not remove the elected PM this time and now they want to take over the govt and declare emergency with the threat of martial law. Every time the PM was removed the SC judges helped and conspired with the generals. This time they failed in their efforts and now they are openly threatening the executive.
    Baloch are against their occupation and the killing is going on for decades. Instead of taking up Bughti’s murder and disappearance of thousands of Baloch youth at the hands of establishment the judges are waging war against the elected govt even on this issue. The alliance of PCO judges with generals and mullahs would continues against the secular democracy.

    Recommend

  • Khalid Mahmood
    May 24, 2012 - 8:36AM

    It is obvious that the time is running out and the Government won’t do anything or is incapable of doing anything for restoring peace, law, and order. Was it not for the Court discouraging the Army by stating that the doctrine of necessity is buried and were it not for the fear of the PML(N) that the next military regime was going to be a long one and brutal like Musharraf, the Army might have taken over some time back and restored sanity to this unfortunate land? That would have been in the best interest of the country as within a year after holding elections, the Army would have retreated to the barracks.

    Recommend

  • Shaheer Malik
    May 24, 2012 - 9:14AM

    Honourable CJ sb. please do something about Balochistan yourself because our rulers are very busy in looting the money and sucking blood of nation.

    Recommend

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    May 24, 2012 - 9:16AM

    Chief Sahib, get out from your deep sleep. You don’t have any authority to impose emergency, yes this can be a wishful thinking. You and the national knows who are behind this abductions or some must have joined hands with some outfits whom we consider as strategic assets. Don’t unnecessarily blame civil government.

    Recommend

  • Malek Tauqee/Towghi (Baloch), Ph.D.
    May 24, 2012 - 9:41AM

    The Honorable Chief Justice of Pakistan should say what he knows: the GHQ is running the affairs 100 %, at least in Balochistab and Sindh, in its own ways practically suspending and violating the Constitution — and hence Committing treason. Jilani and his cabinet could not disrespect and act against the court verdicts without assurance of support from the GHQ.

    Recommend

  • asif
    May 24, 2012 - 12:04PM

    Kudos to Honourable Chief Justice Iftikhar Chudhary for taking immediate steps to save Balochistan otherwise naive Pakistanis will see another Bangladesh in making and America/NATO need the safe exit to roll back their military machinery..situation is very grave…If the Pakistan cannot provide safety and security of the People of Balochistan,,,then the People of Balochistan have every right to revolt against the state and breakup from federation and declare Independence….same is the case with kashmir where India Govt treated Kashmir indifferently and the results are clear people see India as Occupation……..not their saviour.. Justice for Balochistan….

    Recommend

  • Ammar
    May 24, 2012 - 2:37PM

    Cheif Sb! You have the evidence; it is about time you talk to the boyz, instead of this toothless government. One more thing, this proclamation of emergency is way out of your domain. You only do what you are authorized to do. It is best for your kind self and better for rest of us.

    Recommend

  • nasir sipra
    May 24, 2012 - 7:56PM

    Oh, are they the judges? Custodians of constitutions talking about Martial Law?
    Nation has not wished for restoration of this kind of Judiciary. A 20 year lad has correctly said”Once a PCO judge is always a PCO judge.

    Recommend

  • Cautious
    May 24, 2012 - 9:33PM

    When you analyze what your Chief Justice is saying — it’s not much different than what USA Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher has been complaining about. It’s past time that Pakistan either step up and give Balochistan the rights, respect, and peace it deserves or just allow them to go their own way. Baloch’s have suffered the indifference of the civilian govt and the outright abuse of your military for too long.

    Recommend

  • Uza Syed
    May 24, 2012 - 10:32PM

    @Imran: Really? You sure took long time to be surprised, although the man is full of surprises from PCO Oath – I to PCO OATH -II to HM most obedient one to the cat-turning-lion the whole nine yard—O’ he is full of surprises and expertise of all sorts except what rendered you speechless ” the legal expertise “.

    Recommend

  • observer
    May 25, 2012 - 9:57AM

    When the hearings began in the SC, the Attorney General of Balochistan asked, “Who can stop the FC?”

    Can the CJP answer this plea, please.

    Recommend

More in Balochistan