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Supreme Court of Pakistan. — Photo by AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: A counsel representing Balochistan indicated before the Supreme Court on Tuesday that a crisis was bound to hit the province at the time of installing a caretaker government.

Balochistan is currently under governor’s rule after President Asif Ali Zardari had on Jan 14 suspended the provincial government for two months by invoking Article 234 of the Constitution.

“A peculiar problem exists in Balochistan given that the next general election is imminent and all political parties are unanimous on dissolving the provincial assemblies to install caretaker governments for supervising the elections,” Shahid Hamid said.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, had taken up a petition of Balochistan High Court Bar Association president Malik Zahoor Shahwani and vice-president Sajid Tareen on the breakdown of law and order and incidents of terrorism, kidnappings for ransom and increasing enforced disappearances in the province.

The counsel said a caretaker chief minister could only be appointed by the governor under Article 224(2) of the Constitution in consultation with the chief minister and the leader of opposition in the outgoing provincial assembly.

“The federal government must think about this situation,” the advocate said, adding that the provincial assembly could only be dissolved under Article 112 of the Constitution by the governor if so advised by the chief minister or automatically stood dissolved at the expiry of 48 hours after the chief minister had so advised or in case a vote of no-confidence had been passed against the chief minister.

“Other than this, there is no other way to dissolve the assembly,” the counsel argued.

But the chief justice observed that the court would purposely abstain itself from making comments on the situation. He explained that the court was only concerned that there should be no derailment of the democratic process and that all should ensure that the constitutional process continued so that everybody could participate in the elections.

“The only concern the court has right now is the safety and security of the citizens of the province,” the chief justice emphasised.

Nawabzada Talal Bugti appeared before the court to highlight the ordeal being endured by the people of Dera Bugti and Marri areas. The two places, he claimed, had virtually become no-go areas.

He sought early rehabilitation of about 250,000 internally displaced people and inclusion of the people of Bugti, Marri and Kohlu areas in the voters’ list. He regretted that a good number of voters had been ignored while compiling the list.

Talal Bugti said that if true representatives of the people were not allowed to participate in the elections, these would be considered to be engineered and peace would not be restored in the province. He alleged that efforts were being made by certain elements to subvert the elections. The head of the Bugti tribe said the government should take steps for his security. He complained about illegal appointments in OGDCL and PPL.

Balochistan Chief Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Mohammad assured the court that the provincial government would look into the matter and said there was already a ban on fresh appointments in the province.