Unimpressed by the government and law enforcers’ efforts to quell the unrest in Balochistan, the Supreme Court has warned that it will come up with its own order on June 4.
A recently-held high-level meeting on the situation in the province – attended by the prime minister, army chief and Inter-Services Intelligence chief – was also rubbished by the apex court on Friday, saying that the huddle had failed to address basic issues.
Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Khushnood Lashari told the court that the May 29 meeting discussed policy matters, but the chief justice remained unconvinced. The bench ordered the interior, defence and principal secretaries to convene a meeting with a clear objective to address three basic issues: a timeframe for the recovery of the missing persons, incidents of kidnapping for ransom and the recovery of mutilated bodies.
The court observed in its written order: “If you (authorities) will not come up with a clear statement, then we will pass an appropriate order on June 4.”
Lashing out at FC
Taking notice of the three ‘missing’ persons allegedly killed by the Frontier Corps in Quetta, the court turned down the force’s request for more time to conduct a ‘proper investigation.’
“There is a possibility that a few rogue elements within the FC are working on the behest of enemies,” said Justice Jawwad S Khwaja, one of the members of the three-judge bench. Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, meanwhile, observed: “It seems that the common man and security agencies are at loggerheads in the province.”
According to witnesses, the three men were ‘picked up’ on April 11. The court had directed agencies to recover them safely, but their mutilated bodies were recovered on May 28. The men were identified as Mehran Baloch, Muhammad Khan and Muhammad Nabi.
Counsel for Frontier Corps Raja Irshad’s request seeking more time for a proper investigation was turned down by the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who said the court would now decide the matter itself.
“When we press law enforcement agencies for the recovery of missing persons, only their bodies arrive. The bodies of three people whose cases were being heard have been found”
The chief justice resented the fact that Balochistan’s Home Minister Zafarullah Zehri and other top officials preferred to stay in Islamabad themselves and asked Zehri to file a statement in response to allegations levelled against him.
It also directed the defence secretary to collect statements of provincial ministers regarding their alleged involvement and that of the FC, while Balochistan’s inspector general, police, has been directed to register murder cases against those responsible.
When the court initiated its proceedings on Friday, the attorney general, interior secretary and defence secretary were not present and had to be summoned on short notice. On this, the bench observed that government functionaries were uninterested. It also asked the government to change its legal team, saying the attorney general was not cooperating with the court.
Advocate Raza Kazim, who appeared before the court in a related case, said the Balochistan issue was not only a contempt of court case, but a clear subversion of the Constitution. He maintained that the court should issue notices to relevant authorities under Article 6, which deals with high treason.
The court stated that Kazim’s arguments had been incorporated, but no order was being passed in this regard.
When principal secretary to PM Lashari and Interior Secretary Sadiq Akbar agreed that the court’s orders to take immediate action was intended for the federal and provincial governments, and the state itself, the chief justice remarked: “Then it is a fit case of high treason under Article 6.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 2nd, 2012.
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