Law and order situation : SC rejects govt’s progress report on Balochistan

Court says evidence suggests FC involvement in missing persons cases.


Azam Khan September 20, 2012

ISLAMABAD:


The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected the government’s report on the law and order situation in Balochistan, rueing that no progress had been made despite the court’s clear directions.


“We are not satisfied with the statement (submitted today),” said Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, while heading a three-member bench of the apex court.

The progress report was jointly submitted by Interior Secretary Khawaja Siddique Akbar, Defence Secretary Lt-Gen (retd) Asif Yasin Malik, Balochistan Chief Secretary Yaqoob Babar, the Balochistan home secretary, Inspector General of Balochistan Police and Inspector General FC Major General Obaidullah Khattak.

The court also termed the Balochistan chief secretary’s report a “formality” that he had merely fulfilled.

“We are adjourning the case to enable authorities to take steps regarding the recovery of missing persons and enforcement of fundamental rights enshrined in article 9 of the Constitution,” the court observed in its written order.

The court also directed the attorney general to consult the prime minister on the issue and report back.

The court decided to appoint five amicus curiae (Latin for ‘friend of the court’) in the case, which may include former Supreme Court Bar Association President Munir A Malik, Advocate Salman Akram Raja, Supreme Court Bar Association President Yasin Azad, Pakistan Bar Council Vice Chairman Akhtar Hussain and Advocate Rasheed Rizvi.

The court will announce its decision in this regard today (Thursday) and will also decide where the final hearing of the case will be held. So far, the court has conducted 42 hearings in Islamabad and 28 in Quetta.

Meanwhile, former Balochistan chief minister Sardar Akhtar Mengal requested to become party in the case. Mengal is currently in the United Kingdom and the court will fix his application for hearing upon his return.

Missing persons

The chief justice noted that evidence suggested that missing persons were in the custody of the Frontier Corps (FC), adding that neither the federal nor the provincial governments were serious in resolving the lingering issues of the province.

He said that the FC is alleged to be involved in around 1,000 out of 1,700 to 1,800 incidents in the province. There is a need to strengthen the provincial police force and the Balochistan Levies, he added.

Secretaries’ briefing

During proceedings, the court noted the absence of Interior Secretary Khawaja Siddique Akbar despite repeated notices, and warned that the court would direct the establishment secretary to transfer him immediately.

The threat appeared to have worked, as Akbar appeared after the break to brief the court.

“Balochistan is the future of Pakistan,” he said, adding everyone wanted a solution to the Balochistan issue. However, the chief justice pointed out that despite the government officials’ efforts, the outcome was zero.

The interior secretary also informed the court that Interior Minister Rehman Malik wished to brief the court about the Balochistan law and order, upon which Justice Khilji Arif Hussain predicted that the minister would only tell the court that foreign elements were involved in the province.

Defence Secretary Lt-Gen (retd) Asif Yasin Malik told the court that he had discussed the province’s situation with the chiefs of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Military Intelligence (MI), and also gave them instructions to cooperate with the local administration and provincial police.

Chief Justice Chaudhry said that the ISI and the MI had submitted a report, yet there was no improvement in the situation.

“We thought the prime minister would take concrete steps to control the worsening situation of Balochistan,” he added. Chief secretary Babar informed the court he had taken up the matter with the prime minister and had requested to hold a meeting with him in this regard.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 20th, 2012.

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