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- Friday, July 27, 2012 - From Print Edition

Heading a three-member bench hearing the law and order case on Balochistan, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has made it clear he does not believe the province can be saved unless the citizens of the country play their part in finding a just solution to the crisis. The chief justice is clearly right in making this point. Balochistan is afflicted with multi-tiered problems that will need a huge national effort rather than that of a group of individuals or parties to sort them out. In the first place, we need to recognise at a national and state level that there is a lot wrong in Balochistan, and that multiple factors are responsible for its woes. The assertion of the law-enforcement agencies that all powers to deal with law and order have been handed over to the province under the 18th Amendment is merely an attempt to steer away from the real issues confronting the province. This simply cannot be allowed. The Centre will have to play a crucial role in working out the problems, and without its intervention nothing can happen. It is after all the prime duty of the state to deal with a crisis as critical as this one.

Unfortunately the government at the centre is too busy in its own battles of survival. During the hearing, the SC also identified other problems afflicting Balochistan. On Wednesday, it sought a full report from the defence ministry after the Frontier Corps claimed it has no missing persons in its custody. This goes against all the evidence put before the court so far. It seems clear the apex court is sceptical of the claims made by the paramilitary force. The warnings of the Supreme Court that Balochistan is descending into a state of anarchy with no one aware of who is responsible needs to be taken very, very seriously indeed. This is not a time for statements or meaningless rhetoric. All institutions need to come together to try and sort out the chaos across vast parts of Balochistan. Every stakeholder must seriously try and work towards a lasting solution. Only then can things change for the better in the troubled province.

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