QUETTA, May 23: Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has said the Constitution will take its course if the prime minister fails to take steps, with immediate effect, to resolve the crisis in Balochistan, warning that imposition of emergency could be one of the options to restore sanity to the province.
Justice Chaudhry said he was ready to meet Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to take him into confidence over the apex court’s observations on the Balochistan tangle.
He, however, clarified that because of the contempt case against Mr Gilani, the Supreme Court was unable to approach him.
The chief justice made these observations on Wednesday during hearings on a petition filed by the Balochistan Bar Association over disappearances and human rights violations in Balochistan. The two other members of the bench are Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Jawwad S. Khwaja.
All major political players should keep in mind that non-implementation of the Constitution had led to imposition of martial law more than once, Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry said.
Addressing Defence Secretary Nargis Sethi and Khushnood Lashari, Principal Secretary to the prime minister, the CJP said at a time when Balochistan was burning, the deputy attorney general could come up with nothing better than tender resignation. The two bureaucrats attended the court hearing about Balochistan on Wednesday.
“There have been allegations that the ISI, Military Intelligence and Frontier Corps pick people up and dump their bullet-riddled bodies while police watch helplessly as assassins eliminate religious scholars and common people,” the chief justice observed.
He further said sense of alienation in the province was so deep that educational institutions had stopped hoisting the national flag and playing the national anthem.
Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry said it was regrettable that government officials did not attend the hearings in Quetta registry on Balochistan.
“Several parts of Balochistan have become no go areas. Even kidnapped judges and lawyers were recovered from a private jail of the brother of a sitting minister,” the CJP said. He cited the statement of the home minister that some ministers were involved in kidnappings for ransom.
The government’s inaction amid all the strife and disorder was puzzling, Justice Chaudhry observed.
“There is no coordination between the FC and police for maintenance of law and order in a province that is the soul of Pakistan,” he said.
Addressing Mr Lashari once again, the chief justice said although Prime Minister Gilani had formed a committee on Balochistan, it consisted of individuals who were clueless about problems besetting the province.
“They do not even bother to visit this place.”
CM TAKES FLAK: The chief minister’s role came under scrutiny, too. “The head of the provincial government spent only seven days in Balochistan over the past six months,” the chief justice observed in a scathing indictment.
Defence Secretary Sethi informed the court that Directors General of Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) were ready to brief the Supreme Court on the situation in Balochistan.
The CJ was dismissive of the ‘offer’, saying it was too little too late. He directed Mr Lashari to arrange a meeting between relatives of missing persons and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani at government’s expense so that the premier could see for himself the extent of violation of the Constitution in the province.
Recalling a report in which Balochistan Home Minister Zafrullah Zehri was accused of kidnapping and keeping a person in illegal detention, Justice Chaudhry ordered the provincial police chief to register a case against the minister and produce him before the Supreme Court in Islamabad on June 1. The home secretary told the court that he had made repeated attempts to get in touch with Mr Zehri, but in vain.
The chief justice said the apex court would conduct further hearing on the missing persons case in Islamabad.
The Advocate General of Balochistan, Amanullah Kanrani, was asked to arrange travel to, and stay in Islamabad, for Mr Nasrullah Baloch, chairman of Voice for Baloch Missing Persons, so that he could assist the court in the case.
The Supreme Court accepted an application filed by the head of Balochistan National Party-Mengal, Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal, for becoming a party in the missing persons’ case.
The hearing was adjourned to June 1.