Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has rightly said that recovery of missing persons was necessary to end the unrest in Balochistan. During Tuesday’s hearing of the missing persons case he ordered that either a missing person, Abdul Malik, be produced, or else the Chaghai district Commander of the Frontier Constabulary (FC) of that time, appear. The Chief Justice passed these remarks after the FC lawyer had said that all FC commanders had denied having a single missing person in custody. He also said that the FC was “our own force” and its image was to be saved. The FC is accused of complicity in the disappearances. As the Chief Justice said, there was a great deal of evidence of this, and the Supreme Court could not “ignore these evidences.”

Though the FC is presently the focus of attention, the involvement of other agencies as well cannot be ignored, and is deserving of attention. Balochistan has seen intelligence agencies given the free run of the place, with the result that Baloch activists have been disappearing, with their corpses turning up later. Matters have been complicated by the finding of the Supreme Court’s own enquiry commission of the involvement of a foreign hand in the disappearances. The agencies have been fond of the use of mysterious disappearances as a tool. If at all there is a threat to public welfare, the government is obliged to inform the Supreme Court and pursue the matter on the basis in law.

The issue of disappearances also stands highlighted by the protest of the Association of Parents on Disappeared People in Srinagar on Tuesday. This showed that Pakistani and Indian agencies use the same methods to advance what they assume are their countries’ interests. It is time this reprehensible practice was dropped and those proven guilty of this crime were brought to book. The Supreme Court is, thus, fully justified in pursuing the matter with the commitment to resolve it.