Published in The Nation newspaper on 17-Sep-2013
QUETTA /AGENCIES/OUR STAFF REPORTER - Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has said that peace in Balochistan cannot be restored unless the borders are fenced and protected.
“Our neighboring countries have been working to fence their side of border, but we have left our porous borders open for the smuggling of weapons, which is main cause of the grim law and order situation in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Karachi,” remarked the chief justice.
Expressing serious annoyance over non-recovery of missing persons, the chief justice said there was no respect for the judiciary and if this attitude was not changed they would leave.
Once again summoning the Frontier Corps inspector general to appear before the court, the apex court regretted that despite lapse of three years the missing persons had not been recovered.
The CJP expressed these views while hearing the deteriorating law and order in Balochistan, at the Supreme Court’s Quetta Registry on Monday. Justice Jawad Idrees Khawaja and Justice Azmat Saeed were also members of the bench.
It may be recalled here the Supreme Court last month passed orders to produce the missing persons of 61 cases, saying there were evidences that they had been picked up by FC or federal agencies.
On Monday’s hearing neither any missing person was produced nor did the IGFC appear, on which the court showed resentment and directed the additional attorney general to ask the IGFC to produce missing persons.
When the CJP was informed that the IGFC was in Khuzdar, he questioned if he (IGFC) was unaware of today’s hearing. “We are not interested in his presence, but he had made commitment that the missing persons would be produced,” he added.
The deputy attorney general told the court that he would contact the IGFC, adding he was taking special interest in missing persons’ case and his visit to Khuzdar was also a part of recovery of missing persons.
Justice Azmat Saeed remarked: “These people know what will be the results, they are playing with fire.”
Counsel for the Balochistan government, Shahid Hamid, informed the bench that CID was investigating the case and sought more time for investigation. Justice Azmat Saeed remarked the missing persons could not be recovered despite lapse of three years. “Why are these people bent upon to create worries for Pakistan? Are the people above the state? They do not know what could be its impacts. They do not know how much price the state of Pakistan would have to pay.”
Giving references of some missing persons’ cases, the CJP said there were a lot of evidences available that the missing persons were whisked away by personnel of government agencies.
Shahid Hamid requested the court to pass order. The CJP remarked: “Why should we pass order? The law itself will take its course. Why don’t you arrest those involved in missing persons’ case?”
The bench adjourned hearing for half an hour and directed Additional Attorney General Shah Kawar to contact the IGFC and tell him to appear before the bench and produce all the missing persons.
When the hearing resumed, the additional attorney general informed the court that the IGFC had left Khuzdar and could not be contacted. The CJP remarked they would leave and pass a result-oriented order if this attitude did not change. “There is no respect for judiciary. Nobody would believe that contacting the IGFC is not possible, especially in this era when wireless, satellite phone and other facilities are available,” he added.
The CJP told the Balochistan chief secretary that he had also assured the court that missing persons would be recovered, but no progress had been made. The CS said they were extending all cooperation toward FC to create an atmosphere conducive to the recovery of missing persons, adding the Balochistan chief minister was also lobbying for the recovery of the missing persons.
The CJP said under Article 9 of the Constitution, the court could pass a result-oriented order and it could dint the morale of the force if missing persons were not recovered.
Adjourning the hearing till Tuesday (today), the court said despite its clear orders neither missing persons were produced nor did the IGFC appear. The CJP ordered the IGFC to appear in the court and produce the missing persons.
Earlier, during the last hearing, counsel for the Balochistan government, Shahid Hamid (former Punjab governor), told the court that 54 cases against foreign nationals had been registered, adding 213 foreigners had been arrested and repatriated to Afghanistan.
Answering a court’s question, he said the foreigners had come back to Pakistan as the Afghan authorities did not take action against them. He said there were evidences that Afghan weapons were smuggled through India. The CJP said until and unless the smuggled weapons were controlled, peace could not be restored to Balochistan, adding nowadays the militants had modern weapons, but the law-enforcement agencies lacked such weapons.
During the hearing, the report about the local government elections in all the provinces was also produced. The provincial governments sought more time to conduct local bodies’ elections on which the court directed the provinces to conduct such elections forthwith.
He remarked that if you people are not conducting local bodies elections then it was meant that you people were put the constitution in pending and the court would never allow this.
The CJP directed all four provinces to produce report of conduction local bodies elections today (Tuesday).
Published in The Nation newspaper on 17-Sep-2013