Apex court sees constitutional breakdown in Balochistan

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry

ISLAMABAD: Hearing the case for almost four months, but with no progress made on Balochistan law and order situation, the Supreme Court has decided to give the final ruling over the targeted killings in Balochistan today (Wednesday).

Both the federal and provincial governments have been directed to file written replies over the worsening law and order situation in the province.A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, expressed annoyance over both governments’ failure to pay attention to the affairs of Balochistan. The court observed that when no one wanted to bring stability back to the province then why they were indulging in futile exercise, as they too would dispose of the case.

During the hearing, when the bench asked the Balochistan advocate general whether the missing persons had been recovered, his reply was negative.Expressing desperation over the answer, the chief justice said the same response had been given on every hearing, as the court’s orders were not being implemented.He said the situation in the province was worsening day by day, as intelligence agencies, Frontiers Corps (FC) and police had done nothing in this regard. He also remarked that Balochistan had already experienced a constitutional breakdown.

During the hearing, Raja Irshad, the counsel for FC, submitted a report on behalf of his client on the province’s law and order situation. The FC said in the written statement that it had conducted ‘internal inquiries’ and found that the group of missing people ‘was not in the custody of FC’. It said in many cases insurgents dressed in FC uniforms committed “high-profile acts of terrorism and heinous crime, which is bringing a bad name to this federal organisation.”

The FC counsel told the court that eight inquiries were being conducted by different lieutenant colonels and that various aspects of the investigation required further probe. The report said since January 1, 829 people had died in ‘terrorist’ attacks in the province whereas 429 people, including 59 officials from the FC, had been ‘murdered’. It also mentioned that the FC should be given the power of police for maintaining peace in the province; otherwise a commission should be formed on the subject.

Raja Irshad said the FC’s powers were limited through new ordinance. Similarly, the army was not approached for maintaining peace as it had stayed in barracks. He rejected the impression that the army was conducting any operation in Balochistan.Justice Jawwad S Khawaja said the complaints related to the FC should be investigated thoroughly.The chief justice said he was not satisfied with the FC’s reply and directed the paramilitary and civilian officials to appear again before the court today (Wednesday). “There is apparent failure of the executive machinery to control law and order,” he said.

The CJP observed that the court would now announce names of the persons, who had failed to perform their duties in the province.He asked the advocate general whether the government had abolished no-go area in Dera Bugti. Upon this, he replied that there was no-go area in the region. “Why the people of that area are not returning,” the CJP asked him.The advocate general said the government had devised a strategy to compensate the heirs of missing persons as whoever would move an application in this regard, would get compensation. Justice Jawwad said that Rs80 billions were given in the province. – Nation