Shifting the responsibility

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court (SC) asked the additional advocate general to take up the missing persons’ issue with the government and ask parliament to legislate in order to resolve the matter. The SC observed that the issue was sensitive in nature and parliament should come up with legislation to deal with it. With all due respect to the apex court, the missing persons’ issue was taken up by the SC and it should have been pursued by the court to fruition. Shifting the responsibility at this critical juncture to a weak parliament will not necessarily resolve the issue. The missing persons’ issue is a very critical one. It involves our intelligence agencies like the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intelligence (MI) and other such agencies, particularly in Balochistan where the Frontier Corps (FC) is running a parallel government. Families of the thousands of missing persons, especially from Balochistan, believe that our intelligence agencies are behind their disappearances. Many a time, the apex court has ordered that the heads of the ISI, MI and other agencies appear before the court but so far this request has not been entertained.

When General Pervez Musharraf sacked Chief Justice (CJ) Iftikhar Chaudhry back in 2007, many people believed that one of the reasons was the missing persons’ issue that CJ Chaudhry had taken up. When the deposed CJ and judiciary were restored in 2009, it was expected that they would pursue the missing persons’ case. Though the cases have been heard, the SC’s appeal to parliament seems like the apex court has given up and does not want to take any further responsibility in this matter. Commission after commission was set up by the apex court to tackle the matter, but nothing came of it.

It is well known that the real power in Pakistan lies with the military and security establishment. Anyone or any institution that challenges this establishment is asking for trouble. If the independent judiciary can take the democratically elected government to task on a host of issues, it should be equally willing to take the establishment to task. It is a sad day for Pakistan when the judiciary, in which millions of people had put their faith, shifts responsibility off its shoulders and onto parliament’s.

(my editorial in Daily Times)


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