QUETTA: During the the hearing of a petition on the law and order situation and human rights violations in Balochistan on Wednesday, the Supreme Court directed the Balochistan government to file a final response over the missing persons’ issue tomorrow (Thursday), DawnNews reported.
The court moreover issued summons for the federal interior and defence secretaries to appear for Thursday’s hearing.
A three-judge bench of the apex court, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja, was hearing at the court’s Quetta registry the petition filed by the Balochistan Bar Association on the law and order situation in Pakistan’s largest province.
The bench said that the federal and provincial governments and the Frontier Corps (FC) had assured the court of resolving the missing persons issue but had failed to do so in spite of the fact that a period of three months had lapsed.
On which, FC’s counsel Raja Irshad said that the court had “forcefully” taken the assurance from the said institutions.
To Irshad’s response, the chief justice said that the counsel should think carefully prior to speaking before the court, adding that, his response came under contempt of court.
The federal secretaries for interior and defence failed to appear for the hearing upon which the chief justice expressed his displeasure.
In his remarks, the chief justice said that “such attitudes give the impression that the federation is not interested in what happens in Balochistan”.
Explaining the absence of the defence secretary, the deputy attorney general said that the secretary could not appear for the hearing on account of previously scheduled meetings with several delegations.
Also during the hearing, Inspector General Frontier Corps (FC) Obaidullah Khattak said that all residents of the province were important however the FC could not make significant progress over the recovery of missing persons.
The chief justice said the missing persons’ recovery was the bench’s first priority, adding that, the FC had failed in accomplishing that task.
Chief Justice Iftikhar moreover said that in the prevailing situation, the law would take its course.
He further said that the people that the Inspector General Police, Balochistan, Tariq Omar Khitab had been referring to should be handed over to the police.
Upon which, Khattak said that the threats the country was facing could not be tackled by one institution.
The chief justice said that the province’s security situation was deteriorating on a daily basis and that judges, uniformed coast guards and members of the Shia community were being targeted and killed.
Khattak said the court should also consider the FC’s actions in the region and make a note of the sacrifices rendered by its members.
FC’s inspector general moreover said that years of targeted killings in the province had claimed over 2,000 lives.
Upon which, the chief justice said that if law enforcement agencies could not produce effective results, then they should notify the bench in writing and the bench would relay that information to the provincial governor and chief minister.
Chief Justice Iftikhar moreover said media reports said that even a United Nations delegation would be arriving in Pakistan to analyse the situation in the wake of the targeted killings of members of the Shia community.
“The UN has also taken notice of the killings,” the chief justice said.
Khattak moreover alleged that the FC was being maligned under a well-thought out plan.
Upon which, the chief justice said that much had also been said about the judiciary. He added that a reading of history would inform IG FC that personalities have been maligned in the past.
Earlier on Tuesday, the chief justice had directed the provincial chief secretary to take steps to improve law and order in two weeks.
Also on Tuesday, Chief Justice Iftikhar had termed the killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti a big mistake and had observed that peace could not be restored in Balochistan until the issue of Dera Bugti was resolved.