Despite the denials it has heard over many weeks, the Supreme Court has left no doubt that it believes the Frontier Corps (FC) is behind the continued ‘picking up’ of people from Balochistan. Losing patience with the paramilitary force, a three-member Supreme Court bench, hearing the case on missing persons at its Quetta registry on July 13, ordered the FC and its inspector general to produce the eight persons who had vanished in the province, in ten days’ time. July 24 has been set as the date for the men to be brought before the court.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and other members of the bench made it quite clear that they were running out of patience. The repeated failure to reveal where the men are, have quite obviously angered the Court, which is not willing to debate the matter any further. It has also sought more information on, specifically, 14 persons who went missing in the Khuzdar region some weeks ago. The demand of the Court, that people must be given access to justice, is one that most citizens of the country would definitely agree with. The question now is whether the FC will comply with the court order. So far, it has shown little willingness to do so, despite increasingly strident court action — and nor is there any evidence that it is ready to follow directions from the provincial government.
The ongoing case is an important one for many reasons. It will determine whether the Supreme Court is able to reinforce the writ of the state in the province where chaos has continued to prevail over the last many years. If it fails in its efforts to bring justice to the people, we will then have little hope for the future of Balochistan and it will be hard to move forward from this position of despair. This position is not an enviable one. No one knows who is in charge of matters in Balochistan; we can only assume that the forces that play their role from behind the scenes are pulling the strings. And until they are exposed, we can have little hope of seeing a brighter future in which people are able to live without fear and in peace.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2012.
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