The Supreme Court remains unamused by the unfolding sequence of events in Balochistan. At the latest hearing held by a three-member bench of the apex Court, on a petition regarding the law and order situation in the province, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, besides commenting on poor policing and impossibility of maintaining law and order in the province, also termed the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti “the biggest mistake”. The chief justice also gave directives for including Nawab Bugti’s family in the voters’ list. The chief justice quite rightly lamented the hopelessness of a situation where a sessions court judge could be killed on sectarian basis without the government being prompted into taking any sort of action. In addition, the wisdom behind handing police powers to the FC when it has been accused of extrajudicial killings in the province also raised eyebrows among those sitting on the bench. The Court rejected the government’s response that there had been no increase in the number of people who had gone missing and that the number of dead bodies turning up on streets had declined. The bench pointed out that ‘settlers’ from other provinces continued to flee Balochistan, which was hardly an example of a comforting law and order situation within the province.
The Court hearings on Balochistan have highlighted many of the wrongs that have been committed in Balochistan, including the assassination of Nawab Bugti. But the problem is that even though top law-enforcement officials have appeared in the Court, no solutions have emerged, with killings on sectarian and ethnic bases continuing. As the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has pointed out, not many of the people who had gone missing have resurfaced despite the apex Court’s efforts in this regard.
The Court has been able to identify issues — and sometimes culprits. What we need now is a means to fix the mess. Law enforcement alone is not the answer. The political forces enjoying influence in Balochistan need to be engaged in a process that can lead towards genuine order and be encouraged to begin a dialogue on this without further loss of time. Unless this happens, things will not improve.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 5th, 2012.