ISLAMABAD: As Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed predicted his possible departure from the government and expressed inability to resolve the grievances of the protesting Baloch students, Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court (IHC) Athar Minallah termed it a ‘lame excuse.’

The court sought a report from President Dr Arif Alvi and the interior minister by April 8.

The IHC chief justice while hearing a petition filed by rights activist Imaan Zainab Hazir Mazari against police crackdown on Baloch students had on March 30directed the minister to address their grievances.

When the court resumed hearing on Friday, it was informed that in compliance with the court order a meeting of the students was arranged with the interior minister and a report had also been submitted.

However, the counsel for the petitioners asserted that the meeting was not fruitful because the minister for interior informed the students that he may not be holding the office by next week.

Chief justice issues direction after interior minister expresses inability to resolve issues of protesting students

“Such a response was definitely not expected from a chosen representative holding one of the most important public offices,” the chief justice observed, adding the federal government had, regrettably, ignored the serious grievances of the students. The minister was expected not only to hear the students but also take prompt action in order to ensure that there was no harassment or feeling of racial profiling in future.”

Justice Minallah observed that the grievances of the petitioners were grave in nature.

He asked the chancellor of Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU), who is the president of Pakistan, to ensure that the grievances of the students belonging to Balochistan, particularly in the context of racial profiling and harassment, were probed.

Since a Baloch student, Abdullah, on March 30 disclosed that the university administration had facilitated harassment of students from his province and the security officials had allowed them to stay in the university hostile so that they could frequently probe and keep a check on them.

The court directed the vice chancellor of the university to submit a report, explaining why students from Balochistan felt that they had been subjected to racial profiling.

“The court expects that a report on behalf of the chancellor of QAU, i.e. the worthy President of Pakistan,

will be submitted before the date fixed. The minister for interior is directed to probe into the grievances submitted by the students belonging to the province of Balochistan and submit a report, inter alia, highlighting the actions taken to dispel the perception of racial profiling.”

Further hearing in the matter was adjourned till April 8.

Published in Dawn, April 2nd, 2022

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