The Supreme Court took the opportunity of referring to the miserable conditions prevailing in Balochistan and the authorities’ failure to bring them back to normal, while it was hearing a case, on Tuesday, about the issue of the grant of lease of the Reko Diq project to the Tetra Cooper Company of Pakistan (TCCP), a Canadian and Chilean consortium. Although, it has already issued its verdict on the law and order situation in the province, the allusion to the continued pitiable conditions there arose, perhaps, because of the charge before the court that under cover of exploiting the minerals at Reko Diq, its wealth was being plundered – again credited to the indifference of the government. Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry regretted that it had reached its conclusions after 72 hearings lasting for hours yet neither the provincial nor the federal government has done anything to implement the judgment to stem the tide of violence in Balochistan. Mutilated bodies were continued to be found on its streets, but the tragedy is that no one in authority seemed to be moved.

Let it be clearly said here that the Chief Justice or the Supreme Court is not alone in bemoaning the authorities’ lack of interest in whatever is happening in the largest federating units that is, incidentally, also the richest in precious mineral resources. The Federal Minister for Interior, Mr Rehman Malik, has on more than one occasion pointed to the presence of a foreign hand, both in Balochistan and Karachi but, somehow, has never proceeded beyond making that accusation. Neither has he indentified the culprits, nor has there been an improvement in the situation, after this confident affixing of blame.

No doubt, the violent groups in Balochistan are a bewildering mix because hardly any one section of society could consider itself safe from violence. At one time or another, almost everyone of them have suffered. There are, of course, dissident leaders, who while sitting in the security of foreign lands, attempt to portray themselves as leaders of a secessionist movement. Evidence of the supply of arms to them from Afghanistan and of funds is virtually established. There is also little doubt that the sense of deprivation and injustice in the distribution of resources has drawn some to that extreme line of thinking. Then there are the religious bigots targeting Shias, the locals killing settlers from other provinces, particularly Punjab. The Supreme Court during its hearing had been pointing a finger at ISI and MI, though acknowledging at the same time that the FC has suffered a loss of well over 400 of its personnel. These points could be helpful in solving the jigsaw puzzle. But it is the government that is responsible for the security and safety of the people, irrespective of ethnicity or religious bent of mind; it has to move fast to take charge and not allow the situation to linger on and worsen. The buck stops at its desk!