The apex court has given the head of the Frontier Corps (FC) until July 24 to present eight persons who were allegedly picked up by the paramilitary force from different parts of the volatile province.
A three-judge bench of the apex court – headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry – set the deadline on Friday while hearing a petition filed by the Balochistan Bar Association at its Quetta registry.
Angered by the continued failure of the FC to present the missing persons, Justice Chaudhry told Maj Gen Obaidullah Khan Khattak, the inspector general of FC, that no one could turn a blind eye to the volatile situation anymore.
“We have to come up to the common man’s expectations from the judiciary to deliver justice,” Justice Chaudhry said.
The court has to follow the Constitution when it comes to solving cases and delivering justice, added Justice Jawwad S Khawaja.
Justice Chaudhry said there were serious allegations against the FC vis-a-vis the enforced disappearance of Zakir Majeed, Zafarullah, Mehran Baloch, Safar Khan Marri, Iqbal Baloch, Ali Hassan and Dr Din Mohammad Marri.
The FC has looked into the cases separately and has had a meeting with the provincial chief secretary on the issue, said Maj Gen Khattak.
The chief justice also took notice of another 14 people who went missing during a paramilitary operation in Khuzdar.
The reason the FC was facing allegations was because the force never bothered to involve local administration officials while conducting operations and making arrests, said Justice Chaudhry.
The son of one of the missing persons, Ali Hassan, requested the bench his father be given a fair trial if there was any case against him. “FC officials pressured me to withdraw my allegations against them,” he alleged.
FC’s legal counsel Raja Irshad also sought more time to produce the missing persons.
Justice Chaudhry ordered Maj Gen Khattak to direct the FC commandant to produce the missing persons, so that the cases could be closed and the perpetrators brought to book.
While hearing another petition involving the disappearance of Dawood Bugti from Dera Bugti, the chief justice told the deputy commissioner that until he did not enforce the rule of law in his region, he would not be able to produce the missing persons before the court.
He added that the provincial home secretary should maintain order in Dera Bugti. “If there is no improvement in the situation, we will send a Supreme Court representative to enforce the law [in the region],” Justice Chaudhry said.
He also noted that the situation has gone from bad to worse “after [Baloch chieftain] Nawab Akbar Bugti was killed in 2006 [in a military operation]”.
The chief justice also directed Maj Gen Khattak to clear Dera Bugti of landmines and arrange a visit to the region by media persons, civil society members, along with Balochistan Bar Association President Malik Zahoor Shawani.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2012.
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