THE withdrawal of permission to Secretary General of the Pakistan Human Rights Commission Iqbal Haider to attend the trial of Balochistan’s former Chief Minister Sardar Akhtar Mengal is highly unbecoming of a government that never spares an occasion to assert that it has restored real democracy in the country. The permission was “withdrawn quite abruptly”, as Mr Haider maintained. Upon inquiry before going to the jail where the case was to be heard on Saturday, he was told by the superintendent that he had orders not to allow anyone to observe the trial.
Citing Article 21 of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997 to defend the action raises an obvious question whether during the intervening period of the grant and withdrawal of permission anything seriously upsetting had happened for the court to change its mind. According to the judge, Mr Haider did not correctly report an earlier proceeding of the case, but the interests of justice might as well have been amply served had he been cautioned to be careful in the future. The media has, during the past few days, brought to light the story of mistreatment of Mr Mengal, even levelling the allegation that he has been kept in a cage. It was, therefore, all the more necessary for an HRCP official to be present in the court to know the truth about the charge and personally see the condition of the arrested Baloch leader.
However, according to another press report, Mr Mengal, who is being tried on the charge of taking two security officials hostage, has been given ‘B’ class in prison on the request of his counsel though the special public prosecutor had opposed it. The authorities must make sure that he is not only immediately shifted to that class but also while there is granted all facilities it’ entitles him to avail. Whatever the merit of the case that led to his detention, the government must appreciate the sensitive situation prevailing in tide province, especially the bad blood created in the aftermath of Nawab Akbar Bugti’s ill-conceived murder. Its claim of removing the sense of injustice and neglect prevailing in Balochistan by ‘g
launching mega’ projects loses credibility in the face of these ugly facts. Cruel and crude methods like putting a political leader in a cage could be rightly interpreted as a manifestation of sheer malice not justified by the circumstances. It is time the contradiction inherent in claims and acts was resolved for the people of Balochistan to have the real feel that the question of their betterment was receiving the attention it deserved.
Source: The News