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Baloch Hal Editorial: Judicial Breakthrough

Also see Asian Human Rights Commission | February 8, 2011 | Statement

The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Mr. Justice Ifthakar Mohammad Chaudhry, and two other judges are dealing with a monumental challenge of recovering the missing persons in Balochistan. A Supreme Court bench working in Quetta to achieve tangible success is confronted with four major challenges.

Firstly, to make sure that no more missing persons are killed and dumped during the custody while the courts are still hearing the cases.

Secondly, to continue to build pressure on the civilian government as well as other stakeholders, such as the Frontier Corps (FC) and secrete services, to provide a transparent account of their involvement in this gruesome practice.

Thirdly, the judges are hoping no more new cases of disappearance are reported from any part of Balochistan as they strive to fix the decade-long problem.

Lastly, the task for the judges is to safely recover all the missing persons without any delay and further torture during detention.

This is a very delicate but extremely important task. It is reassuring that the Chief Justice has also taken the Frontier Corps (FC) to task and ordered the registeration of cases against at least two majors of the paramilitary force. We believe the Inspector General of the FC should also be answerable to the courts in order to provide an honest account of his force’s extrajudicial actions.

In the meanwhile, the Voice for the Missing Baloch Persons,which is a small organization comprising of the relatives of the missing persons, has confirmed the release of two more missing persons. The organization’s chairman Mr. Nasrullah Baloch, is absolutely right that the judges have to do a lot more as hundreds of other missing Balochs still await their safe release.

However, we deeply welcome the judicial intervention as it seems to be making at least some progress in bringing people back to their families from the custody of the country’s powerful spymasters. The families of the missing persons have expressed profound anxiety in the recent times after the inception of kill and dump operations as a result of which nearly 300 missing persons were killed and dumped during the past one year.

While the Judiciary seems to be doing a better job than the other branches of the government, we urge the Frontier Corps (FC) and intelligence agencies to cooperate with the judges in their efforts to provide justice to the people of the province. We hope the ongoing hearing will lead to the recovery of more people who have gone missing for several years.

The judicial panel headed by the Chief Justice can also benefit from the firsthand experiences and narratives of those Baloch citizens who have been freshly released. They have to be offered official protection and assurances to come before the panel and provide the details of their ordeal. Information provided by them is surely going to provide invaluable insights about the obscure and illegal world of extrajudicial detention and torture. Based on the leads provided by these people, the Supreme Court should go a step further and bring to justice all those officers in the security forces who have been guilty of misusing their offices committing human rights abuses.

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