THE United Nations' decision to establish a direct contact with the kidnappers of its senior official John Solecki who went missing in Quetta early this month reflects badly on the government's ability to check the growing lawlessness in Balochistan. It was Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's telephone call to President Asif Ali Zardari that led PM's Interior Adviser Rehman Malik to make an abrupt dash to Quetta to review the efforts the law-enforcement agencies have so far made for his recovery. Shadowy Baloch Liberation Army, which claimed responsibility for the UN official's kidnapping, has threatened to kill him if the provincial administration failed to release its activists within 72 hours. Those in authority cannot escape the blame for shying away from their responsibility for maintaining law and order in the province that has seen hundreds of mysterious disappearances during the Musharraf era. Mr Malik meanwhile told a press conference that the government had got important indications and leads that might help track down the abductors but he declined to share details with the media at this stage. There is no disputing his observation that those involved in the heinous crime were no well-wishers of Pakistan. But this is not the time to dabble in rhetoric. The entire world's eyes are focused on Balochistan where the human rights abuses in the past nine years compelled the local population to take up arms against one of the most repressive regimes the country had had. It is a pity that the current democratic dispensation has not been able to do anything to assuage their miseries. Despite the fact that President Zardari apologized to the Baloch for the excesses committed against them in the past they still await compensation for their losses. Mr Malik tried to trivialize the issue by rejecting the claim that 6,000 people had gone missing and insisted that they were not more than 800 out of which 200 had so far been released. But the fact that the Interior Ministry is not aware of the whereabouts of the rest only points to its indifference about this sensitive issue. The federal government cannot continue to take credit for releasing Sardar Akhtar Mengal and withdrawing cases registered against other Baloch leaders in the past unless it takes appropriate measures to redress the grievances of ordinary citizens of the province as well. Before putting the Balochistan government on the mat for its failure to restore peace in the province there is a need to disengage the intelligence agencies from their dubious activities.