The Supreme Court has decided to go on hearing the case of missing persons of Balochistan in Quetta, giving March 30 as the next date of hearing, after receiving the reports from the ISI and MI on the killings in that province. The agencies requested that these reports be kept secret. However, in the meantime, the Balochistan Home Department has prepared a report which notes that 1,493 people had been killed and 3,313 injured in 1,718 incidents, mostly in target killings and sectarian attacks from 2007 to February 15 2012. According to the findings of the Home Department, a nexus between separatist outfits and "external forces" enables such sustained violence, and it also noted the connection between Baloch separatist and sectarian groups. The report says: “Balochistan Liberation Army, Balochistan Republican Army, Baloch United Liberation Front, Baloch Liberation Front and other criminal gangs have developed this nexus from 2007 to 2011.” The Supreme Court observed during Thursday’s hearing that it seemed Chief Minister Aslam Raisani was not paying sufficient attention to the province. It also noted that the killings were taking place in increasing numbers, with the result that the court has shifted the hearings to Quetta.

If the provincial Home Department has identified foreign forces, they must be identified, if any different from India, which has already been identified by Interior Minister Rehman Malik. However, the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister have not taken cognizance of this, and have egged on the Commerce Minister to grant India Most-Favoured Nation status. Meanwhile, the USA has shown its own interest though the resolution on Baloch self-determination moved in its Congress. The nexus with the sectarian parties is of particular significance in the province, where much of the violence has been sectarian. It is also worth noting that the report carefully makes no reference to the accusation, commonly made, that the disappearances are carried out by the secret agencies. The fear that a provincial department has indicated that the Supreme Court faces even more of an uphill task than in Karachi, where it intervened against the target killings there, calling on the provincial government to do its job.

That may well be the problem in Balochistan. After all, the provincial government, which belongs to the PPP and thus presumably enjoys the full backing of the central government, has the responsibility for law and order. Whatever the case, whether the Balochistan Home Department report is correct or not, the Raisani government is responsible for bringng the bloodshed to an end. If for some reason it cannot, it must make the federal government take the action necessary to restore peace to the province. The situation in the province is already parlous, and the general miasma of violence has allowed both foreign and local elements to play with the minds of the province’s people.