ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday directed Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed to hear grievances of the protesting Baloch students and warned that he would be summoned if the order was not complied with.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah was hearing a petition filed by rights activist Imaan Zainab Hazir Mazari against registration of a first information report (FIR) against her as well as the protesting Baloch students.

During the course of hearing, Ms Mazari requested Chief Justice Minallah to hear the point of view of the Baloch students.

The judge therefore allowed Baloch student Mohammad Abdullah to address the court.

Mr Abdullah said he was one of the students of Quaid-i-Azam University from Balochistan who had been trying to draw the attention of the federal government towards their grievances.

The students have been endeavouring to do so by setting up a camp outside the National Press Club for more than a month, he added.

Mr Abdullah described in detail the facts on the basis of which a perception had been created that public functionaries were involved in alleged harassment of students.

“The facts disclosed before the court today, prima facie, show that the perception and apprehensions are not without basis,” observed the chief justice.

The court noted that students, particularly those belonging to the province of Balochistan, needed special attention by the federal government.

“They have a right to be heard. It is regretted that the conduct of the public functionaries has not been found to be in conformity with their constitutional obligations towards the citizens, particularly the students. The State through the public functionaries has to demonstrably show empathy towards the young students, in this case students belonging to the province of Balochistan,” the court order stated.

“The facts narrated today by a young student from Balochistan are alarming and grave violation for constitutionally guaranteed rights. The conduct of the federal government, as observed in the proceedings in hand, shows lack of empathy,” the court observed.

Subsequently, the court directed the interior minister to meet the aggrieved students from Balochistan on March 31 and hear their grievances.

Justice Minallah also sought a report on April 1. He warned “in case there is refusal to comply with this order, then the court will consider to summon the minister for interior because the grievances brought to the attention of the court are of grave nature.”

Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2022

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