The Supreme Court, while hearing the case of missing persons in Balochistan , has blamed the Frontier Constabulary for the disappearances. It has done so after the enquiry report by the Commission it had itself set up, which, headed by a Supreme Court judge, found the disappearances, along with the target killings plaguing the province, were the responsibility of a “foreign hand”. However, the court was right to order cases registered according to the wishes of the complainants, especially in light of the fact that it is common knowledge that the FC has been heavy handed, to say the least, in its activities in the province. If the complainants had named the FC, then their right to have an FIR registered against individuals belonging to the FC had to be upheld, which is what the Supreme Court has done. At the same time, the bench should make public the reasons that the Defence Secretary has been instructed to take concrete measures for the recovery of the missing persons, along with such officials as the IGs of both the FC and the Balochistan Police, as well as the Balochistan Home Secretary. It was not mentioned during the hearing or in the interim order whether the court, apart from the Justice Javed Commission report, was relying on the report presented to the bench by the Attorney-General, of the high-level committee set up by the government on disappearances in Balochistan .
The committee was about as near as Prime Minister Gilani’s government got to resolving the issue. It would now be the responsibility of his successor’s government to carry out this task. However, irrespective of who holds office, the people have still disappeared, and the Supreme Court is still seized of the matter. However, the Supreme Court’s pursuit of the agencies seems a little at odds with the report it has received from its own Commission, and it must take measures, if necessary, to make the new federal government take up the matter vigorously with the elements involved in so heinously destabilizing the province.
It would be unfortunate if the federal and provincial governments were to leave to the Supreme Court the task of ensuring the recovery of the missing persons. They should be aware that persons going missing do not just mean that the law has been fundamentally violated, but that an existential threat is posed to the security of the entire nation. The recovery of missing persons is thus a task primarily concerning the government, not just the courts, even though the government does not seem to care.k