The government’s lucrative economic package and its peace overtures have thus far failed to stabilise Balochistan. But on Tuesday, the apex court came up with a solution based on local tribal traditions.
A three-member bench – headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry – advised the government to convene a grand Baloch jirga to restore order in the volatile province.
Chief Justice Chaudhry said that the chieftains of all tribes in the province – Bugti, Marri, Achakzai, Mengal and Raisani, etc – should go into a huddle to find a peaceful solution to the problem.
While dismissing the performance of government officials, the court reposed trust in the Baloch themselves. “The Baloch people are more loyal to the country than anyone,” Justice Chaudhry observed.
The bench was hearing a petition filed by the Balochistan High Court bar on the issue of missing persons and target killings in the province.
“It is amazing to see that in an area where the writ of law-enforcement agencies is established, such gruesome incidents are taking place,” the chief justice observed.
Balochistan Advocate General Amanulah Kanrani informed the court that law-enforcers were also being targeted by terrorists. Justice Chaudhry, however, was not ready to let the officials off the hook, observing that the inspector general of police (IGP) and interior secretary were responsible for law and order.
He added that the IGP spent most of his time in Islamabad, stating that it was the duty of the state to ensure the protection of life and property for all.
The court sought a comprehensive report from the chief secretary and IGP about incidents of kidnapping for ransom in Quetta.
Suo motu action
The chief justice also took suo motu notice of two recent incidents in Quetta. In the first incident, gunmen abducted Advocate Hamza Shahwani on March 18 from Quetta. And the second incident was about the police failure to arrest the killers of businessman Zohaib, who was gunned down in front of his shop on a busy road.
Kanrani informed the court that the IGP and chief secretary could not travel to Islamabad due to bad weather conditions caused by a dust storm in Balochistan.
The court gave the two officials until March 22 to arrest Zohaib’s murderers and recover Shahwani and report to the court on March 22.
Domki family murder case
The court also sought from Sindh police chief Mushtaq Shah progress on the investigation into the murder of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti’s granddaughter in Karachi. Shah, however, was conspicuously absent, as were other Sindh police officials.
The Sindh police’s attorney told the court that they had not been asked to present any progress report as it was already submitted before the court during the last hearing.
Justice Chaudhry did not take kindly to this information: “You only want to keep us busy with these useless reports.” He added that the report submitted in the previous hearing was not final. The court will take up the case again on March 22.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2012.