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The federal government’s misguided priorities

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The federal government filed a petition in the Supreme Court on Monday, seeking to quash the Islamabad High Court’s order that security agencies trace the missing Baloch students, citing the state’s misguided priorities. highlights Rather than actively working to address the underlying problem – the claim that the state makes its citizens disappear – the government is more concerned with pushing back against any legal efforts that would end this deplorable practice. can do The Attorney General also asked why the Islamabad High Court judge was summoning the top officials including the Prime Minister on the matter. He added that by forming a joint committee of security agencies and entrusting them with the task of searching for the missing persons, the Islamabad High Court had “exceeded its jurisdiction” as the committee set up by the Supreme Court on Enforced Disappearances. It was already working.

Suffice it to say that if the said committee was doing its job, enforced disappearances would have ended long ago. Meanwhile, the hearing on February 19 highlighted the Attorney General’s objection to summoning top state officials to the court due to the absence of the caretaker prime minister. This is the second time he has skipped the hearing of the case. Perhaps if the Prime Minister had appeared, it would have sent a strong message that the state intends to address the issue. But as the petition filed in the Supreme Court against the Islamabad High Court order shows, the government has no real interest in resolving the matter.

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Whether the missing persons are from Balochistan or other parts of the country, the government is clearly in denial. State activists, as well as those who tout the official line, suggest that many of the missing have, in fact, joined separatist organizations, or gone abroad in search of greener pastures. Others have reported that thousands of people go missing in the United States and Britain as well. Raising the issue of missing persons should not be linked to the defense of separatism. All that is being asked of the state is to bring those accused of participating in militancy before the courts, so that their guilt or innocence can be ascertained within constitutional parameters. Is that too much to ask? It is hoped that the incoming administration will end the ravages of enforced disappearances, and that security agencies will only work within the confines of the law when dealing with wrongdoers.

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