If president, PM can’t do anything then let the court decide: SC
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday said that if the president and prime minister of the country refused to act on the matter of law and order in Balochistan, then the court would be forced to issue a harsh order. The court also observed that inviting the UN working group on enforced disappearances to Pakistan was tantamount to interfering in the court’s work.
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and comprising Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, heard the constitutional petition filed by the Balochistan High Court Bar Association president against target killing and kidnapping for ransom as well as missing persons in Balochistan.
At the hearing, the SC also rejected the joint testimony of the federal defence and interiorsecretaries as well as the Balochistan chief secretary who claimed that the 78 missing persons whose whereabouts the court had sought were not in the officials’ custody. The court also appointed five senior lawyers as amici curiae to assist the court in the case pertaining to the law and order situation in Balochistan.
During the hearing, Attorney General Irfan Qadir submitted a joint testimony of the defence and interior secretaries and the Balochistan chief secretary wherein it was contended that none of the 78 missing persons was in the officials’ custody. The testimony also refuted the earlier statements that a further 80 people had been taken into custody.
Rejecting the joint testimony, the court observed that each case would be heard on an individual basis and adjourned the hearing till today (Thursday).
Earlier during the course of the hearing, Chief Justice Chaudhry and Attorney General Irfan Qadir exchanged harsh words. The attorney general questioned why the Balochistan law and order case was being prolonged at which the chief justice replied that the situation in Balochistan was going from bad to worse and the case required attention.
When the chief justice asked the attorney general why he turned up at the court when the court had summoned the defence secretary, the AG replied: “I didn’t receive the court’s instructions in time.”
Expressing annoyance, the chief justice said that the court had issued the order soon after the hearing. The court also took strong exception to the non-appearance of the secretary interior and ordered that he should ensure his presence before the court within half an hour.
Later, Secretary Interior Khawaja Siddique Akbar appeared before the court and submitted he had not been keeping well and was on leave, and hence could not appear before the court.
S M Zafar, counsel for the Frontier Corps, submitted before the court that foreign hands and various other elements were involved in the law and order situation in Balochistan, but the criminals were not arrested.
The chief justice remarked that the court had knocked on every door to resolve the Balochistan issue but if the government wanted to let people die, it would be held responsible for the killings.
Justice Khilji Arif Hussain remarked that the court was being forced to take extreme steps to resolve the issue.Meanwhile, the court allowed former Balochistan chief minister Akhtar Mengal to become a party in the case and asked him to record his statement today (Thursday).
The court also issued notices to Talal Bugti on his application regarding the sealing of Dera Bugti. NNI adds: According to a private TV channel, the chief justice asked the attorney general why he came to the court despite not being called. In response, the attorney general retorted: “Do not summon me if you don’t want me to come.”
The chief justice said: “Go over the last order of the court. You were not called today.” The attorney general replied: “Your order was belatedly received.”
Displeased by the attorney general’s reply, the chief justice noted that the order was immediately written. At this the attorney general retorted if the court was implying that he was lying. The CJ warned him to mind his manners.
Balochistan Chief Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad submitted a report at the hearing, which the bench called nothing but a ‘formality,’ adding: “The chief secretary’s meetings with high-ups, including the prime minister, are nothing but a formality.”
Addressing the chief secretary, Justice Khawaja said: “Are you waiting for some third force to come? The secretary interior had not showed up during the previous 10 hearings.”Justice Khilji Arif Hussain said grim consequences would ensue if the court wrote an order saying the federal government was not serious about the issue of Balochistan. The court does not want to deliver such an order but is being pushed towards this eventuality, he lamented.