ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Friday said there should be no interference in the upcoming general elections from any quarter and if the real representatives are elected, the law and order in Balochistan would improve.

Heading a three-judge bench hearing the Balochistan law and order case, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry told Balochistan government counsel Shahid Hamid to communicate it to federal and the provincial authorities that the election commission should have free hand in the general elections.

The CJP said the governments should abstain from repeating the past mistakes, adding that if transparent polls are held, it would be a major achievement. “Let people elect their own representatives,” he added.

Shahid Hamid said due to governor rule there is improvement in law and order of the province. The chief justice said that soon the assemblies would be dissolved and the caretaker government would start its work but if the security situation continued to deteriorate, what the caretaker government would do. Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed said, “We have not endorsed the Governor Rule but had said that the institutions work in accordance with the constitution and law. Though we need (fair) elections all over Pakistan, but (we) desperately need it in Balochistan.”

The court directed the Balochistan administration to take steps for the recovery of missing persons and arrest those involved in the kidnapping for ransom and target killing and file challans against them. The CJ said it should be loud and clear to all that they would not compromise on the issue of missing persons.

The chief secretary and the home secretary stated that Nasrullah and Khan, two missing persons who were recovered, in their statements have told the police that they were in the custody of the FC. The court observed that how without adopting legal course the agencies could keep them in their custody. It asked the police to recover other missing persons also and submit a report in two days at SC Registrar Office.

The CJ told Balochistan Home Secretary Babar Fateh Yaqoob to take action even against FC men, if they are involved in kidnappings and set an example. The court assured its backing to the chief secretary saying, “We are here to help you. We are supporting you like anything.” The court told the secretary that authorities will have to take action if they wanted to save Balochistan.

CID DIG Feroz Shah submitted a report about recovery of disappeared persons. He said out of 87 missing persons, according to the SC list, 13 have been recovered. The court directed him to produce them before the District and Sessions judges for recording their statements. The CJ said their main concern is security of life and property of the people. The state is responsible to enforce fundamental rights enshrined in Article 9 of the constitution; therefore any step whatever is taken must be to protect the fundamental rights of people.

Balochistan government counsel said a comprehensive strategy has been prepared to utilise the services of all the law enforcement agencies. He said this decision was taken in a high-powered meeting attended by FC Inspector General Southern Command and officers of the intelligence agencies. He said the FC and agencies complained that their efforts were not being recognised by the media. The court was informed that there are total 80 ‘Ferrari Camps’, where the kidnapped were being held, and out of those 30 camps are across the border.

Shahid Hamid pointed out that in some districts, which were highly sensitive, law and order has been restored. The learned counsel said the chief justice of Balochistan High Court travelled to Dera Bugti, where a District and Session Court has been established recently. The chief justice said that the FC should be used as per law. The court asked them to adopt a strategy so all the IDPs of Dera Bugti are repatriated safely and people should have free access to that area. The counsel said a meeting of the chief secretary and ECP officials was held to place the name of Dera Bugti IDPs in the electoral list.

The counsel said that out of 10,000 Balochistan Frontier Constabulary (BFC) only 1,000 are actually available. He also told the bench that over 100 guards were deployed in Balochistan House, Islamabad, but now they have been retrieved. Justice Gulzar Ahmed inquired why the salaries of BFC men not performing their duties was not stopped. He said if those responsible for maintaining security would not perform their duties, how the law and order would be restored in the province.

Balochistan DIG Investigation Hamid Shakeel informed the court that 700 mobile phone SIMs were being issued per day in the province. Counsel for telecom companies Raza Kazim argued that the regulatory body, PTA, should block those phone numbers which are not in its loop. The court said: “We are not saying that mobile phone companies stop their services in Pakistan but they should ensure authorised use of SIMs. The court urged for devising some strategy and give suggestion to control this menace. The case was adjourned until March 6.