Dawn News

Supreme Court of Pakistan
Supreme Court of Pakistan. — Photo by AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday resumed the hearing of a petition on the law and order situation and human rights violations in Balochistan, DawnNews reported.

A two-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, was hearing the petition filed by the Balochistan Bar Association on the law and order situation in the province.

During the hearing, a heated exchange of dialogue took place between the bench and Advocate General Balochistan Amanullah Kinrani.

Kinrani said the killing of Baloch nationalist leader Akbar Bugti took place during the Musharraf regime which led to deterioration in the province's security situation.

Responding to which, the chief justice remarked that the court had strengthened the state's institutions, adding that, the advocate general should submit his reply in writing.

The advocate general said that if Raisani's government was removed, no other authority would be present to take up responsibility.

He added that the general election was going to take place in a couple of months' time, adding that, it was the people of the province who had the authority to reject the current government.

The advocate general said that things were not going to change in the province in two months’ time.

Following the exchange, the interior minister attempted to present his view upon approaching the rostrum.

Upon which, the chief justice directed the minister to return to his seat since he had not been called to speak.

Malik said he had wanted to bring some facts to light, adding that, the bench was not permitting him to speak and was instead letting the attorney general — who was his subordinate — argue.

The chief justice then directed the interior minister to submit his statement in writing.

Malik replied that if the bench did not allow him to speak, neither he, nor the bench would be absolved in the annals of history.

Chief Justice Iftikhar said that while the bench would be exonerated by history, the interior minister would not.

Subsequently, Attorney General Irfan Qadir presented a report on the province's security situation on behalf of the interior ministry.

Qadir moreover said that the court had no authority to issue orders to the provincial government, adding that, the bench had no rationale to rule against the federation and the Balochistan government.

He added that the court was continually humiliating the interior minister by repeatedly issuing summons for him.

Qadir said Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja had stated that Malik was a party in the case.

Subsequently, the attorney general read out the interior ministry's report before the bench.

The report stated that the government was fully aware of its duties, adding that, it was taking a number of steps to improve the security situation in Balochistan.

The report added that it could not be said that the provincial government had failed.

It further asked whether the court was declaring a state of emergency in Balochistan, adding that, only the president had the authority to do so.

After the report was read out, Chief Justice Iftikhar remarked that the Balochistan government was answerable to what was happening in the province.

The chief justice moreover asked whether it was possible for people to freely move in the province.

Responding to which, Malik said that the impression that Balochistan was not safe to travel in was faulty.

The chief justice then offered Malik to travel with him to Balochistan to which the interior minister agreed.

Upon which, the chief justice said that he would not travel with the minister in an armoured personnel carrier.

Malik agreed to travel in an ordinary car and offered to take the driver's seat.

To which, the chief justice said that travelling to Balochistan did not mean travelling to Quetta alone.

The bench subsequently remarked that the government needed to admit that the situation in Balochistan was not stable.

The chief justice said that a commission should travel to Balochistan to determine the facts about its law and order situation.

Malik said a number of militant groups were involved in terrorist activities in Balochistan.

Malik moreover said that the government and the judiciary had to sustain democracy in the country.

Responding to which, the chief justice said that democracy would remain.

Malik replied saying it did not appear that democracy would be able to sustain in the country.

"Democracy does not entail the killing of people in Balochistan," the chief justice said.

Malik said the issue in Balochistan was not that of law and order, adding that, the province was experiencing an insurgency.

The chief justice remarked that the government should control the insurgency with its latest weaponry, security forces and helicopters.

Subsequently, the minister filed an application in the court requesting a postponement in the court's ruling on the case.

"The court should postpone the order so that a constitutional crisis is not created," Malik stated in his request.

The chief justice remarked that the court's ruling would not lead to a constitutional crisis.

Responding to which, Malik said: "This means Balochistan still has a government...the nation is fortunate that the country is not under a dictator."

Addressing Malik, the chief justice said that police had accused the Frontier Corps (FC) of having a role in the deterioration of the province's law and order.

Malik said that was not the case, upon which, the chief justice said that the province lacked good governance.

"We inherited this situation," Malik said.

Addressing the minister, the chief justice said: "The government has been in power for the past five years...yet security situated continued to deteriorate."

The argument continued between the minister and the bench over the province's law and order.

Subsequently, the Balochistan government requested the court for four weeks' time in order to appoint a counsel.

The bench gave the provincial government two weeks' time and adjourned the hearing until Nov 20.

Chief Minister Balochistan Aslam Raisani and 15 other members of the provincial assembly were present at the hearing.

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