Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Monday invited the government to write a letter to the court and admit its failure to stem the killings in Balochistan.
Law and order has broken down to such an extent in the province that “the advocate general should just write to the court on behalf of the government admitting that it can no longer handle the situation”, said Justice Chaudhry.
He also directed a verbal jab at Home Minister Mir Zafarullah Zehri, who was present along with Inspector General Umer Khitab and FC’s counsel Raja Mohammad Irshad. “You should write that you have failed completely.”
The remarks came during the hearing of a petition by a three-member bench on the law and order problem and human rights violations in the province.
Balochistan’s Advocate General Amanullah Kanrani told the court that only “four out of 135 missing persons have been recovered safely so far.” At this the chief justice remarked that such meagre progress showed the provincial administration was not taking the issue seriously.
The chief justice was scathing in his criticism of the role of paramilitary forces. Every third person, he said, is being picked up by the Frontier Corps. What’s worse, he said, is that the number of mutilated bodies seems to increase every time the bench visits Quetta.
“Four mutilated bodies were recovered just yesterday (Sunday).” The advocate general, however, argued the bodies were not mutilated and that the men were killed in an encounter with the FC.
The chief justice added: “We are sitting here from morning till night, but don’t see any progress.” Justice Jawwad S Khawaja blamed the police: “A man goes missing in 2007, but the case is registered in 2010.”
The bench has asked the advocate general to obtain the list of missing persons and provide compensation to their families.
A representative of the defence ministry told the bench that sometimes people take refuge in “hiding camps” and their families are usually unaware about it. The Supreme Court, however, rejected the report presented by the defence secretary while the advocate general said evidence should be provided regarding their presence in such camps.
While reprimanding the FC lawyer for the force’s failure in keeping the problem in check, the chief justice agreed “we can’t say all fifty thousand FC personnel are bad, but there are about 50 black sheep who are involved in unlawful activities.”
The chief justice has directed customs officials to launch a crackdown against unregistered vehicles in the province.
He said the customs department was taking bribes to allow such cars to enter the province. “Your officers are partially responsible for every crime committed using unregistered cars,” the chief justice told a customs officer.
Senior lawyer Tahir Shah told the bench that some police officials were also driving around in these vehicles.
The court has given a 15-day deadline to the Federal Board of Revenue to discourage the use of such vehicles in the province.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2012.