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The Supreme Court of Pakistan.—AFP Photo

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that the federal and provincial governments have failed in providing security to the people of restive Balochistan, the country’s biggest province.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry said that the Balochistan government had lost its constitutional authority, and that the police alone could not be held responsible for the province’s unrest.

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, comprising the chief justice, Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, issued an interim order  on a petition of the Balochistan High Court Bar Association on the breakdown of law and order and human rights violations in the province.

The CJ remarked that despite 71 hearings on Balochistan, not a single missing person has yet been recovered.

“It is constitutional responsibility of the executive government to protect life and property of citizens and failures to do so are bound to have consequences sooner or later,” Chaudhry told the court.

The chief justice ordered the Balochistan government to submit another report in two weeks’ time, but did not set a date for the next hearing.

“We will keep this case open, because we have to ensure the fundamental rights of the people of Balochistan. But those responsible are not delivering,” he said.

The judge said no one had been arrested over the killings of hundreds of Shias and at least 26 doctors, and reprimanded security forces for not acting against “influential” people involved in kidnappings.

The Chief Justice remarked that Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani should take responsibility of the rampant kidnappings and killings instead of blaming the police only.

“Your own minister says on record that ‘yes our own people (in government) are involved in the crime. Somebody has to take the responsibility. The chief minister has to take responsibility,” Chaudhry said.

Counsel for the Balochistan government, Shahid Hamid, said that a high-level committee had been set up to probe the security situation, and that the chief minister was also a part of the committee.

Hamid claimed that in the last two weeks nine people had been arrested and claimed that there had been only one targeted and one sectarian killing.

An earlier interim order by the apex court apex court on Oct 12 had ruled that the Balochistan government had lost its constitutional authority to govern the province because of violation of fundamental rights and a failure to establish the writ of law.

The stern observation had forced CM Raisani to seek a fresh vote of confidence from the assembly on Nov 14.

Balochistan is Pakistan’s biggest province and one of the most deprived areas of the country. Rights activists have accused the military of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions in its bid to put down a separatist insurgency.