As the hearing of the turbulent state of affairs in Balochistan continues with the three-member Supreme Court bench investigating the petition filed by the Balochistan Bar Association, which is especially perturbed over the fate of missing persons, events do not appear to be headed in an especially promising direction. On the orders of the Supreme Court, the Frontier Corps (FC), on July 24, failed to produce the missing persons held by it, and it stated that it in fact holds no one in illegal custody.
This, of course, goes against logic: the Court had already heard detailed evidence that the ‘disappeared’ people were in FC custody, with the Balochistan police also testifying to this and stating that FC personnel had been spotted taking people away. The police said they were helpless under the circumstances. Human rights groups had already said that the paramilitary force was primarily responsible for the whisking away of people, many of them linked with nationalist elements or known to support them in ideological terms.
Such blatant defiance of the Supreme Court by the FC is aggravating the situation playing out in Balochistan. In neighbouring India, a serving Indian general was made to appear in a magistrate’s court in response to summonses against him that accused him of offering bribe and spreading misinformation in an army press release. And then we have the FC, who quite clearly intends to defy the Court. However, the question that still remains before the bench is how to sort matters out.
The FC has also refused to obey federal government orders to report to the provincial government. As the Supreme Court has noted, we now have a complete breakdown of the rule of law in Balochistan. The challenge then is to see how this anarchy can be ended and the FC brought under some kind of control, so that we at least know quite who this force is answerable to and how it can be reined in and held accountable.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 26th, 2012.