The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday directed the interior secretary to develop a mechanism to "stop what is happening with Baloch students" and ensure that their ethnic profiling is ended.
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah issued the directives while hearing a petition filed by rights activist and lawyer Imaan Zainab Hazir against harassment of Baloch students who were protesting in Islamabad last month over disappearance of their missing colleague, Hafiz Baloch.
In the previous hearing, Justice Minallah had asked President Dr Arif Alvi to dispel the impression of ethnic profiling of the Baloch students.
When the hearing resumed today, Hazir told the court the president had given assurances to the students. However, Bebgar Imdad, a student of National University of Modern Languages in Islamabad, was picked up from Punjab University yesterday, she said.
Another student, Dr Dildar Baloch, was picked up from Karachi, she added.
"It seems the government is not taking the matter related to Baloch students seriously," the lawyer said, adding that the Higher Education Commission (HEC) should issue notices to all varsities so that Baloch students are not harassed.
The president held two meetings with Baloch students, Hazir informed the court.
"What did the president do?" Justice Minallah asked. These are real issues but the previous government also ignored them, the IHC chief justice remarked, questioning who was responsible.
Hazir replied that the chief executive and the relevant agencies were responsible.
The chief justice again remarked that the issues were real but political leaders ignored them. "The human rights ministry should be shut down if ethnic profiling is happening. Don't say the state is weak.
"Why is there a human rights ministry when neither the previous government nor this one did anything?" he asked. "Do not say there is a law and order situation, why should children be affected by this?"
Justice Minallah pointed out that political parties' statements were different before they came to power but once in government, they forget everything.
Deputy Attorney General Syed Mohammad Tayyab Shah requested the court for time so he could ask the new government for instructions.
"You can write [to the government] that the state is weak," Justice Minallah replied, asking how it could ignore human rights violations. "This is the job of the federal government. This is the job of the human rights ministry."
The deputy attorney general told the court the prime minister had visited Balochistan recently.
"This is the federal capital. Their (Baloch students) petitions are being heard since February," the chief justice responded.
"These students are the future. Should the courts close their eyes to these human rights violations?" he asked. "Does the cabinet not know what is happening in the country? Weren't those who are in the cabinet [now] going to them yesterday? Don't they know?"
It is the job of the political leadership in a democratic society to find a solution, the chief justice observed.
The court is expected to issue a written order later.
Baloch student picked up from PU
A day earlier, security agencies picked up Bebgar Imdad from the hostel of the Punjab University, purportedly in connection with the Karachi University (KU) suicide blast case.
Imdad, a student of the seventh semester of English Literature in Numl, Islamabad, and a native of Kech, was visiting his relative in Hostel No 7.
On Wednesday morning, PU security guards and other security agencies bundled him into a truck.
One of the students on the condition of anonymity told Dawn that the security agencies suspected that Imdad might be involved in the recent attack in which three Chinese nationals were killed while four others injured outside the KU's Confucius Institute.
He said they tried to resist the arrest of Imdad but the personnel told them to stay away and that if the suspect did not have any involvement in the blast, he would be released by evening. By the evening, he said, the security agencies did not release the student.
The Baloch Student Council termed it "a continuation of the enforced disappearances and harassment of the Baloch students in the country".
The council said the Baloch students were being picked up from educational institutes and the profiling of Baloch students was being done so that the Baloch stopped taking education.
They said the university administration was also harassing Baloch students in the name of data and details.