In a hearing in Quetta, the Chief Justice of Pakistan observed that it is the duty of the state to protect people and provide security to them. In his historic speech delivered in 1947, the Quaid-i-Azam had categorically stated that the establishment of law and order was the primary duty of the state.The Chief Justice as a part of a three-judge bench has taken serious notice of the deplorable security conditions in Balochistan. He remarked that the rising occurrences of target killings in the province were tarnishing the image of the country internationally, as the United Nations had already taken notice of the matter. He referred to the coming visit, in this connection, of a UN delegation. While expressing his unhappiness on the performance and behaviour of the Frontier Corps, he said that if the security forces thus fail to perform their functions satisfactorily, they should inform the court in writing. Said the Chief Justice: “We will talk to the Governor and the Chief Minister on these issues (disappearances and target killings) and if we register a case against FC officials and handcuff a colonel what message will go to the army?” The Chief Justice also referred to the murder of a judge of the Sessions Court on sectarian grounds. There is practically no government writ in the province. Three days back seven members of the Hazara community were brutally killed by armed men. Almost 100 Hazara men in Balochistab have been targeted in this year alone. According to a newspaper report, 800 Hazaras have been murdered in 30 incidents since 2001. Add to this figure, hundreds of settlers (mostly Punjabis) and local Balochis. Many more have just disappeared. Reports of increasing alienation of the Balochis have hit the media.Balochistan is burning and our Neros’ are fiddling. Amazing that the Chief Executive of the province – the Chief Minister - is reported to be spending most of his time in Islamabad. The performance of the federal government is extremely poor and disappointing. The federal Interior Minister perks up off and on. He goes through mock sessions of dramatic make-believe, raising expectations of effective action. And sometimes he points a finger at unnamed foreign elements. Nothing constructive happens. The opposition leaders too visit the province, after long interval make eloquent speeches, warn the government of dire consequences if no remedial steps are taken, and then drift back into routine engagements. Imran Khan too held a large public meeting in Quetta. A meeting was all that he could do! Wait for the tsunami, declared the great Khan. No organised agitation followed. Nor any rallies elsewhere, for Balochistan. And the conditions on the ground have gone from bad to worse. The Supreme Court is often blamed for stepping beyond its jurisdiction, of seeking to assume the functions of the executive. Thank God, there is an institution which does take up unaddressed national issues. Good that it highlights the problems and makes a serious effort to impress upon the concerned executive officials to do their duty and provide relief to the people.Killings and disappearances are not confined to Balochistan only. The rest of the country is also grievously experiencing these heinous criminal acts. It is beyond belief that the largest metropolitan city of the country has been for the last year or so in the grip of unending target killings. The perpetrators belong to local mafias, which have links with all the ruling parties. This explains why the ruling coalition of the province, which also wields authority at the national level, has utterly failed to control the situation, in spite of enhancing the strength of local police and induction of rangers. All that one sees by way of remedial action are meetings at different places - sometimes at the presidency and, more frequently, at the official residencies and offices of the Governor and the Chief Minister. New plans and tactics are devised, but soon enough all this hullaballoo peters out and fades into thin air. After some time, the same exercise with similar results is played out. In addition to these local violence-saturated happenings, the country has presently been in the clutches of a general breakdown of law and order with hordes of thieves, robbers and dacoits looting innocent citizens in the cities and rural areas -sometimes in collusion with local officials. The newspapers are daily reporting cases of such crimes against persons and property. The guardians in-charge of local security are seen increasingly indulging in extra-judicial excesses. Hardly a day passes when stories of torture of innocent people are not reported in the press.This is not all! Mash’Allah, we have quite a few brands of militants also. They, indeed, are having a field day. Thus, Pakistan, which was created to provide protection and safeguard basic rights of the people residing in the northeast and northwest of India, have fallen a victim to ferocious violence born of extremism and misgovernance. Those holding the helm of the state are directly responsible for the existing state of affairs. Indeed, a stage is fast arriving when the common man will be left with no choice other than to find ways and means of securing protection from the exploitation and aggression emanating from minions of the administration. Whether it comes in the shape of a bloody revolution or a tsunami of the type envisage by Imran Khan, only time will tell!Thanks for the small mercies - that the media, especially our TV channels, keep exposing the government’s and politicians’ faults and failures although repeated bouts of often acrimonious exchange of spirited articulations are beginning to have diminishing returns. How much can the courts do when the executive arm of the state is unwilling or unable to cooperate and comply with the judicial orders? When it, itself, is a part of the problem? What impact can the media have on the thick-skinned errant politicians in power and the lackadaisical opposition? As for the civil society, it may hold meetings and organise protest demonstrations, but there is little chance of their launching a long march for the hapless Balochis, settlers, Hazaras and the luckless denizens of Karachi. Our force of lost resort is, on the one hand bogged down in the ‘war’ against terrorism in parts of the country and on the other (fortunately), presently disinclined to intervene and take over control of the country. The one looming hope is the holding of elections. If held freely and fairly, there is a remote possibility of a benign set of rulers taking over and, hopefully, trigger a process of change for the better. The writer is an ex-federal secretary and ambassador, and political and international relations analyst.