ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) deplored the conduct of the president and state functionaries for not addressing the legitimate concerns of Baloch students protesting in Islamabad against disappearance of their missing colleague.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah asked President Dr Arif Alvi to dispel the impression of racial profiling of the Baloch students.He was hearing a petition filed by rights activist Imaan Zainab Hazir against harassment of the protesting students.

The students belonging to Balochistan and at present studying at the Quaide-i-Azam University (QAU) apprehended that they would be harassed and abducted if they visited their hometowns.

The court observed: “The most alarming and disturbing aspect observed by the Court during the proceedings in hand has been the conduct of the public office holders and the lack of empathy on their part. The students have endeavored to be heard by the public functionaries but their conduct has remained indifferent.”

Chief justice asks President Alvi to dispel impression of racial profiling

The court noted that “There cannot be a graver grievance for a citizen to feel that he/she is being subjected to racial profiling or is not being treated equally. The court deprecates the conduct of the public office holders as has been observed during the proceedings.”

The court directed the secretary to the president to place a copy of the order before him. The grievance regarding racial profiling cannot and must not be tolerated. In case of students of Balochistan such a grievance becomes more profound.

“The Chancellor of the University i.e. worthy President of Pakistan is expected to take appropriate action, in consultation with the Chancellors of other Universities, so as to demonstrably dispel any apprehension regarding racial profiling of students belonging to the province of Balochistan,” it added.

“But what is most alarming is the response of the State and its public functionaries. The Minister of Interior had met them pursuant to the Court’s direction but the meeting appears to have been a mere formality,” the court order said, adding: “The Chancellor of the University i.e. the worthy President has not met them as yet.”

A deputy attorney general informed the court that the chancellor of the university - the president - had set a date to meet the students, but on account of unavoidable circumstances it could not be materialised.

He added that the president was given a briefing by the secretary, Ministry of Interior.

The court noted that the grievances raised by the students were not only intolerable but they manifested one of the most gravest forms of violations of the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution.

The secretary Ministry of Interior was directed to reach out to the petitioners and the students of Balochistan at the QAU and take such actions as he may deem appropriate to ensure that concerns relating to security while visiting their hometowns are addressed.

The court directed the registrar office to send copies of the order to the secretary to the president and the secretary Ministry of Interior are direct them to submit their reports before the date fixed.

Further hearing in the matter was adjourned till April 15.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2022

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