The Supreme Court was clearer in its ultimatum on Thursday in a case that seems to be going in circles: recover Balochistan’s missing persons or law-enforcement personnel nominated in the cases will be arrested.
Hearing a suo motu case on the Balochistan law and order situation, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry rejected a statement of compliance with the court’s July 25 order submitted by the province’s Advocate-General Amanullah Kinrani.
The chief justice remarked that the statement it showed no commitment to the issue of missing persons.
The advocate general, upon the bench’s objection, submitted an amended statement, only to have it rejected again.
The chief justice ordered Kinrani to submit a joint statement, signed by the defence and interior secretaries as well as the Inspector General (IG) of Frontier Corps (FC) Balochistan, by July 31.
“Get the document signed or produce your law enforcement personnel nominated in the FIRs and we will get them arrested,” the chief justice thundered.
Citing many missing person cases, the chief justice said that the court had provided the concerned authorities with all the evidence.
“We have reached the stage where everything has been identified. We are now providing them an opportunity,” he remarked.
On the other hand, Raja Muhammad Irshad, counsel for the FC inspector general, rejected claims that FC personnel were nominated in complaints.
The bench adjourned the hearing till July 31, after observing that an incomplete statement by the advocate general could amount to misleading the court.
Meanwhile, the chief justice appreciated the prime minister’s move of forming a committee on the Balochistan issue.
Dera Bugti’s no-go area
Kinrani informed the court that only armed people were not allowed in Dera Bugti’s no-go areas, while local tribal disputes also impeded movement.
The chief justice noted that restrictions on mass movement should be removed, but maintained that the area should be subjected to an arms embargo.
“Not a single bullet should be allowed in the area,” he said.
Public domain institutions
While questioning the counsel for the Inspector General Frontier Corps,(IG FC) Justice Jawwad S Khawja said that bearing public criticism was part and parcel of being an institution in the public domain.
“Today, we have gone through a parliament debate in which certain remarks were passed against us but we never bothered.
“We are in the public domain and receive salaries from the public exchequer. How can we say that we are not accountable?” he added.
He reminded Irshad that the media reported many things, which were sometimes unpleasant, but this, he added, was the essence of a free society.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2012.