Balochistan unrest: Army chief will be summoned

Islamabad: Pakistan`s Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry today expressed displeasure at a top general`s remarks on the law and order problems in Balochistan province and cautioned that the army chief could be summoned to the court. A three-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice was conducting a hearing on the law and order situation in Balochistan, particularly the issue of "missing persons" or those detained without charge by security agencies, when Chaudhry made the remarks.

He expressed his displeasure at a news conference held in Quetta on June 2 by the Inspector General of the Frontier Corps, Maj Gen Obaidullah Khan Khattak, and said it was not the business of an uniformed official to hold press conferences. He further said the news conference violated the court`s orders. The Chief Justice said the court wanted to know what the role of the constitutional government was and that the time had come to summon "someone with authority". Chaudhry cautioned that the apex court would call army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ask him how the country should be run and what he (the army chief) could do.

During the news conference, Maj Gen Khattak had claimed that Baloch nationalists were running training camps and backing a campaign to defame state institutions. Khattak blamed "foreign agencies" for the unrest in Balochistan. However, the Chief Justice remarked that the situation in Balochistan was alarming and unstable. Numerous cases were filed against the Frontier Corps and bodies of those who provided evidence against the paramilitary force were being found, the Chief Justice said. The bench observed that 20 people had been killed in Balochistan in the past two to three days.

Justice Jawwad Khwaja, a member of the bench, said, "We are neither the enemy of the (security) agencies nor the agencies are our enemy. We are ready to give credit but they must perform". Referring to those detained by security agencies, the Chief Justice told Raja Irshad, the counsel for the security agencies, "Hold the trial of the accused, don`t murder them". The Chief Justice has irked the security agencies by pushing them during hearings held in Islamabad and Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, to produce the "missing persons". He has repeatedly summoned senior government and military officials to court and pressured them to free persons detained without charge.