SC sees no visible change in Balochistan situation
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court regretted on Tuesday that there had been no visible change in the law and order situation in Balochistan since the court’s Oct 12 interim order which questioned the constitutional authority of the provincial government.
“Apparently there is not much difference from the situation prevailing on Oct 12,” observed a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed.
The bench hearing a petition of the Balochistan High Court Bar Association on the breakdown of law and order and human rights violations in the province asked the government of Nawab Aslam Raisani to recover the missing persons, including those kidnapped for ransom, to show at least a minimum performance.
The Oct 12 order said the Balochistan government had lost its constitutional authority to govern the province because of violation of fundamental rights.
The stern observation sent the provincial government into a tailspin, forcing Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani to seek a fresh vote of confidence from the assembly on Nov 14.
On Tuesday, the court regretted that nothing much had improved, but observed that it had said nothing in its order, not a single word, to question the performance of the provincial assembly despite having held 72 hearings on the Balochistan issue in Islamabad and Quetta.
“We (the court) are the strong supporter of the parliamentary system of governance and know that members are the chosen representatives of the people,” the chief justice explained. He said whatever had been said in the Oct 12 order was about a person running the government in the province.
The court rejected fortnightly reports submitted by the provincial and federal governments and asked Interior Secretary Khwaja Siddiq Akbar to assist the provincial government in overcoming the internal disturbance.
Advocate Shahid Hamid, representing the provincial government, informed the court that chief minister’s constitutional mandate had since been reviewed and cited a number of cases ranging from Haji Saifullah to Khwaja Tariq Raheem and from dissolution of the Benazir Bhutto government to law and order situation in Karachi to establish that the court had the authority to pronounce that the Balochistan government was not being run in accordance with the Constitution.
He said the provincial government had taken a number of long-term decisions to overcome the situation and apprised the court of the outcome of his meeting with members of the provincial assembly.
Advocate Hamid said the provincial government had withdrawn its earlier decision to file a review petition against the Oct 12 order on his advice, adding that the one moved in the court on behalf of the federal government had nothing to do with the Balochistan administration.
The court office has returned the federal government’s petition terming it scandalous and an appeal has also been filed against this.
The counsel said that in meetings held with provincial ministers he had discussed different constitutional options to wriggle out of the situation after the court’s stern observation. It was decided that in future recruitments in the province would only be made by a committee headed by the chief secretary.
No legislator will have any role in appointments. The auditor general will audit development expenditures in Balochistan.
The court regretted that despite clear directives issued from time to time, neither the accused involved in sectarian killings nor the killers of law-enforcement personnel had ever been arrested. Besides, it said, no missing person from a list of 100 people, including Advocate Mir Mirwai, had been recovered.
“It seems that no protection is being provided to the citizens since sectarian killings have been going on unabated and kidnappings for ransom are continuing as usual,” the court observed.
It said non-recovery of Dr Saeed Ahmed, who had been recently kidnapped for ransom from Quetta, had led to a strike by doctors across Balochistan and consequently general people and patients suffered.
Earlier, Dr Ghulam Rasool had been kidnapped for ransom and released after payment of Rs10 million, the court said, adding that a few more doctors had done the same for their release.
The court also referred to the allegations made by Balochistan Home Minister Zafarullah Zehri that some of his cabinet colleagues were involved in kidnapping for ransom.
DIG of the Crime Investigation Department informed the court that a banned outfit was behind the assassination of Mir Akmal Raisani, a nephew of the chief minister.
But the court said it was not satisfied with the reply, adding that it was the duty of law-enforcement agencies and the government to protect the life of citizens as enshrined in Article 9 of the Constitution. Similarly, it observed, no progress had been made by the provincial police to improve the situation.
The hearing was adjourned for December 5.