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منگل، 25 جنوری، 2011

Pakistani Media should act responsibly

It is unfortunate that some media men, especially those associated with a particular media group, act in an irresponsible manner. They do not realize that they are providing India, US and the West justification for denigrating our intelligence agencies especially ISI, which are eyes and ears of military.
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By Mohammad Jamil

Recently, when senior Supreme Court Judge Javed Iqbal’s parents were killed, newspapers and some anchorpersons and analysts on TV channels, directly or in a subtle manner accused intelligence agencies while making a reference to missing persons’ case. Though they claimed having competent investigating editors and reporters yet they did not bother to investigate the matter to find out the truth. Meanwhile, Naveed Iqbal step- brother of Justice Javed Iqbal has admitted having planned murder of his parents, but they would not show remorse over their irresponsible comments. They do not realize that by doing so they bring Pakistan’s premier agency into disrepute. PML-N leader Saad Rafiq in a bleeper from a private TV channel had also hinted that it was not a simple murder and some invisible hands could be behind it.

These media men and politicians have the habit of referring to invisible hands behind targeting killings in Karachi or elsewhere. Anybody with average common sense would understand that in the present circumstances when there is turmoil and violence in FATA and in parts of NWFP and situation in Balochistan is also volatile, the government or its agencies could not even think of such an action that could exacerbate already messy situation. One would agree that in the past, Balochistan had a raw deal from the leaders with strong-centre syndrome, but sardars were also responsible in equal measure for the dismal security situation in Balochistan, which has hampered the growth and development of the province. According to credible reports, Brahamdagh Bugti and others are maintaining private jails and torture camps for their defectees and rivals. It was obvious from half a dozen calls intercepted by intelligence agencies last year that they were also involved in abduction, kidnapping of local civilians for ransom and also security personnel for acceptance of their illegitimate demands including release of their ‘comrade in arms’.

In addition to their unreasonable demands, nationalists and Baloch sardars have been blowing the issue of disappeared persons out of proportion. While there could be some persons arrested by the government departments or intelligence agencies, but a number of missing persons could be in Afghanistan and India on the behest of Brahamdagh Bugti and other groups. But how could they be produced before the court when quite a few of them have gone to Afghanistan, and their families are being funded from abroad. According to a news report carried by national English daily last year, more than 100 Pakistani Baloch dissidents were sent to India by the Indian consulate located in Kandahar (Afghanistan) for six-month training. Recently, in a case of eleven missing persons who were held by the military or agencies for either spying or treason, the Supreme Court ordered that their families should be allowed to meet them. The court did not order that they should be released, because it was aware of the complexity and importance of the matter.

The press carried the remarks given by Justice Raja Fayyaz Ahmad while presiding over the division bench of the Supreme Court on Monday: “As the Constitution guarantees the protection of citizens, if charges of abduction are proven against officials of spy agencies, they will be prosecuted under the law. If there are terrorists among the missing persons, they should be produced before a court of law. No state institution or official has the right to make an arrest without fulfilling the legalities”. We would not like to comment on the issue as the matter is sub judice, yet according to legal experts that the military has the right to arrest the enemy agents and those involved in treason and sedition under the Army Act. Anyhow the problem is that when terrorists kill innocent people including old people, women and children, intelligence agencies are criticized for not taking action while they receive handsome salaries, perks and privileges. But if they do, they are blamed for going beyond their jurisdiction. In any case, military has to act to protect the lives and property of the citizens. It has to understood that army is at war with the terrorists, and they should not be shown any mercy.

Anyhow, Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq has submitted the judicial commission’s report on the recovery of missing persons. The court expressed its dissatisfaction with the report and directed the AG to meet ISI officials. “If they can be convinced to comply with the court’s directive, half the cases will be resolved. To uphold the Constitution, state institutions including secret agencies must abide by the law. Since the issue is of public interest, it should be taken up by parliament”, the bench remarked. It has directed the federal secretaries of defence and interior to attend the hearings of the missing persons’ case. The heirs of the missing persons requested the court to order the AG to provide them a copy of the Judicial Commission’s report. Maulvi Anwarul Haq informed the court that as the report contains sensitive information, it cannot be provided to the complainants, petitioners or heirs of the missing persons. The AG was directed to share it with the bench and provide copies to the petitioners and heirs of the missing persons on the next hearing after excluding the sensitive information.

The question arises what to do when target killings by the insurgents continue unabated who wish to keep Balochistan in medieval times. Since Balochistan does not have qualified and trained teachers, Punjabi teachers and professors have been performing their duties in educational institutions in Balochistan. Dozens of teachers and professors have been killed and claimed by the Baloch Liberation Army, as claimed by the BLA after every gruesome incident. Last year, four Punjabis, returning from Iran and about to board a Karachi-bound passenger coach at the Bullo terminal, were ambushed and killed by unidentified gunmen after establishing their identity. In January 2010, four Punjabi settlers were killed; in March 2010 twenty two Punjabi settlers were brutally murdered within one week; in August 2010, sixteen Punjabi speaking persons were shot dead in two separate incidents of target killing in Bolan and Quetta. And banned organizations continue killing non-Balochis with impunity. It is possible that some people retaliate and kill BLA leaders and their acolytes, but again agencies are accused of that.

During the Musharraf era, committees were formed to resolve the contradictions but no real progress could be made on one hand due to arrogance of those afflicted with strong-centre syndrome and on the other hand due to arrogance of some Baloch sardars who stood for independent Balochistan. Late Sardar Akbar Bugti had been demanding abnormal rise in land rent, and also wanted that all lower level staff appointments in Sui Gas fields should be made on his recommendations. What Sardar Ata Ullah Mengal and Sardar Khair Bakhsh stand for is an open secret and known to the people through their interviews and statements. After unveiling the Balochistan package, President Zardari was under the impression that sitiatuion would improve, but not unexpectedly, certain Baloch sardars and self-styled nationalists straightway rejected the package before it was officially made public. Whereas civil administration did not have the spine to do it, military has done well by inducting Baloch youth in the army, by establishing educational institutions and health units. It is hoped that better sense will prevail when sardars would realize that poor Baloch have become masters of their own destiny.

The writer is Lahore-based senior journalist.
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