The federal government and the armed forces in a joint statement to the Supreme Court of Pakistan Friday rejected assertions of the Baloch leader Sardar Akhtar Mengal, saying armed forces are neither conducting any military operation in Balochistan nor there are any death squads of the intelligences agencies operating in the province.

According to a private TV channel, the federation and the security agencies concerned submitted a joint rejoinder sought by the apex court after Akhtar Mengal, head of the Balochistan National Party (BNP), recorded his statement a day earlier before a three-member SC’s bench hearing the case regarding the law and order situation in Balochistan.

The joint statement said no death squads of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) or Military Intelligence (MI) are operative in the province. Moreover, there is no missing person currently present in the custody of the secret agencies.

Chief Secretary Balochistan Babar Yaqub submitted the reply in the court. The court later adjourned the hearing till October 8.

The next hearing will take place in Quetta Registry of the apex court.

The statement clearly mentioned that every political party in Balochistan is free to work in the province.

Appearing before the bench, Attorney General of Pakistan Irfan Qadir prayed to the court for permission to present the federation’s reply, requesting the secretary’s written statement be deemed as minutes of the meeting between the prime minister, secretary defence, attorney general, information minister and the Director General of ISI which was held in connection with the missing persons.

Attorney General Qadir, as he tried to comment on Mengal’s statement, was cut short by the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammed Chaudhry who is heading the bench, and remarked: “Mengal’s statement will not be discussed at all. Kindly use your political insight if you have any.”

Urging President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to acknowledge the sensitivity of the circumstances, the Chief Justice Chaudhry said Mengal’s homecoming is a significant progress, adding “It is high time Baloch people’s grievances should be redressed and they are consoled.”

Vowing that the court will make absolute use of its jurisdiction and powers, the Chief Justice Chaudhry observed: “The army is ours own. The standoff will have to be resolved rather than entering a blind alley.”