Much of what Sardar Akhtar Mengal, former Balochistan Chief Minister and now head of the Balochistan Nationalist Party (BNP), deposed before the Supreme Court on Thursday coincided with the general view in the country. His principal concern, which, indeed, lies at the root of disaffection among the Baloch people, was about enforced disappearances and the unrecorded military operation in the province. Sardar Mengal, who has been living in self-imposed exile in London for several years now, came especially to apprise the court of what he thought were the issues that were responsible for the abysmal law and order situation in the province. His statement in courtroom was an unwavering finger pointed at both the political rulers and the upper military hierarchy. He emphatically declared that “general amnesty, development packages and apologies” would not work; true representatives, and not “manufactured” representatives, should be consulted. The SC appreciated the assistance he had rendered to it in resolving the issue.

However, when Sardar Mengal presented his six-point agenda to bring the situation in the province back to normal, the court told him that he should not have made a political statement before it; for that was what the agenda was all about. The eminently reasonable six points, (which Sardar Mengal himself likened to Sheikh Mujib’s six points, but in all fairness are in substance entirely different to Sardar Mengal's) and declared them to be absolutely in accordance with the constitution of Pakistan are as follows: an immediate end to all military operations; missing persons to be presented before the court; abolition of agency death squads; free rein to Baloch political parties to function; punishment to those found guilty for heinous crimes; and rehabilitation of thousands of displaced Baloch. None of these points can be disagreed upon and indeed Sardar Mengal’s suggestions merit immediate attention.

PML-N President Mian Nawaz Sharif also met BNP leader Sardar Mengal at Islamabad on Friday and in support of the six points said that it was necessary for peace in the province to bring the culprits of Nawab Akbar Bugti’s murder to book. As for Mr Mengal’s plea that elections could not be held in the troubled province, delaying elections in the region will only give rise to greater feelings of alienation and a system separate from the rest of Pakistan. This impression must be removed and the SC, which Sardar Mengal lauded as the first “ray of hope” in the past 65 years, must under Chief Justice Chaudhry strive for greater success in its efforts to hold military and civilian leadership responsible for the affairs in Balochistan. As Sardar Mengal castigated authorities for not taking any practical steps on the 60 orders in 68 hearings the SC issued for quick production of missing persons, it is important to remember that even the Supreme Court has been brushed aside in some of its attempts to investigate happenings in Balochistan. A solution and one in a reasonable space of time is the desperate need of the country. Sardar Mengal is welcomed home and the government is encouraged to pay heed to his 6 points without delay.