Ironically, the situation in Balochistan is already more akin to an emergency rule than to a democratic one
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s pronouncement that “the Constitution will take its course if the prime minister fails to take steps with immediate effect to resolve the crisis in Balochistan,” warning that imposition of emergency could be one of the options to restore sanity to the province has sparked a wave of consternation among the Baloch people. He further said, “All major political players should keep in mind that non-implementation of the Constitution had led to imposition of martial law more than once,” and added, “Why don’t we implement the Constitution before the army imposes martial law.” The Baloch are trying to fathom the real reason behind this ominous threat, which seems to be aimed at them — who are the victims of atrocities and a slow-track genocide — and not at the ‘establishment’ and its departments who are the perpetrators; obviously, this is tantamount to urging the state to impose an ‘emergency’ in Balochistan.
There is an anecdote in Sindh that most of the inhabitants of a village were going off for an extended stay at a neighbouring village for a wedding ceremony and the village idiot was the only one staying behind. As the villagers prepared to leave the village, the elders, hoping to advise the village idiot about his conduct during their absence told him, “Now, don’t you set the village on fire while we are away.” The village idiot gleefully clapped his hands and said, “Gosh! This possibility had simply escaped my mind, thank you for reminding me!” This is what this statement has served to do; it has reminded the ‘village idiot’ that he has forgotten the possibility of setting the village on fire, i.e. step up repression by suspending whatever sham fundamental rights exist in Balochistan.
The Chief Justice’s statement has puzzled even leading legal minds. Renowned jurist Justice (retd) Fakharuddin G Ibrahim expressed his surprise over the remarks, and questioning the judiciary’s powers in this regard said, “Only the executive has the authority to declare an emergency. What powers do you have? I don’t know in which direction things are moving.” Consternation among the Baloch arises from the ominous direction that these hearings about ‘missing persons’ have taken. The hearings are aimed ostensibly at the recovery of missing persons, but could be used to give the agencies authorisation to commit atrocities under an emergency. Instead of addressing their problems, the option of suspending rights is being used; but then what one can expect of a state that is interested in Balochistan simply for its resources.