“The Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan organised a national conference on “Balochistan issue and its solutions” on May 26, 2012. At the end of the discussion, it issued a declaration containing suggestions about bringing peaceful conditions to the troubled province. Its text is reproduced below.”
The Supreme Court Bar
Association of Pakistan (SCBAP) was deeply concerned at the deteriorating situation in Balochistan. The number of disappeared or missing persons continues to increase and, most tragically, mutilated bodies of those who went missing are dumped in broad daylight. During the hearing of missing persons case take up by the honourable Supreme Court, it became evident that the victims and their families have accused state agents for the grave human rights violation. The presence of Frontier Constabulary (FC) and multiple intelligence agencies have not brought peace in the province. Instead, blood is being split every single day. A number of FC personnel and police officers have also lost precious lives. It deserves to be condemned as well.
Sectarian deaths have occurred in vast numbers. Hindus are being kidnapped for ransom and 20 percent of the Hindu population of Balochistan have left the province. Settlers in Balochistan have either left or live in fear, as many have been victims of target killings. The state of governance in the province is non-existent and thus social sectors have suffered immensely. Schools remain closed and hospitals are destroyed, roads are unsafe and uprooted, trains run under the shadows of fear and poverty deepens.
In order to address the deeply disturbing situation prevailing in Balochistan and to present solutions, the SCBAP, called a meeting of the leadership of all political parties, intellectuals, members of civil society and opinion makers. The participants of this important consultation concluded:
The politics of garrison should be replaced by the civilian authorities that genuinely represent the will of the people.
It is crucial to ensure that all those responsible for authoring and killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti should be forthwith arrested and brought to justice in an open trial.
The situation in Balochistan is complex and solutions must be found in multiple directions, including renegotiation of the question of provincial autonomy with economic resources to the province. Nevertheless, the participants emphasised that the crisis was one which could only be resolved through political dialogue, negotiations and through building confidence between the people of Balochistan and the federal government.
Post-introduction of the 18th Amendment, which is an effective mechanism, should be set up to ensure that all the natural resources in Balochistan are under the control of the people of the area, while peaceful negotiations continue to meet new challenges.
All those citizens of Pakistan, who are settled in Balochistan, irrespective of their language, caste or belief, should be equally respected and their social and economic rights be protected.
A concerted effort should be made to respect the economic, ethnic, linguistic and cultural rights of all those living in Pakistan and in particular of the Baloch nation. This conference recognises that diversity of cultures in the country and aspires to celebrate it, rather than oppress it.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan should be commended for taking up the case of missing people in Balochistan, but urges that those accused of heinous crimes of killings and disappearances should be brought to justice.
An Inter-Parliamentary Committee should prepare a White Paper on the human rights violation carried out in Balochistan during the Musharraf regime to the present day. The report should be presented and discussed in Parliament.
All political prisoners and missing persons in custody of different state agencies be released forthwith.
An Independent Inquiry Commission be appointed and appropriate compensation be paid to all those who have lost their lives or have become disabled on account of conflict situation.
All religious leaders of different sects should commit themselves to create the culture of tolerance and religious harmony, respecting each other’s beliefs and ideological thoughts.
A rigorous training programme should be given to the FC and the police for respecting the people’s rights of the province. The FC should be strictly prohibited to go beyond their scope of work and warned not to act in an illegal manner.
In parallel to political negotiations as a foresaid, all military and para-military operations are to be stopped forthwith and the army and the FC is to be called back to the cantonment.
The conference calls upon political parties to play a proactive role in promoting a democratic culture in Pakistan. Towards this end, political parties may consider signing of yet another Charter of Democracy so that they may gain the confidence of the people and play a leadership role, rather than remain resigned to the status quo.
It strongly pleads for a peaceful transfer of civilian power. The political parties must ensure that the forthcoming elections should be held in a free, fair and transparent manner. They are urged to rise above personal interests and set up a genuinely natural electoral mechanism.