Out of sight, out of hand?
What was once spoken only in whispers or expressed in innuendos is now being discussed openly in the courts and the national media. The security agencies which were created to give the citizens a sense of protection and to secure the country against its foreign enemies have turned on their own citizens. What is highly dangerous is that they consider themselves above law.
The case of 11 persons who were abducted from the jail after the High Court had set them free is the latest of the type to reach the Supreme Court. For a long time, the agencies flatly denied the men were in their custody. Pressure from the SC finally forced them to admit that the abducted persons were under arrest and were to be tried by a military court. Then suddenly four of the abductees were found dead, their emaciated bodies bearing signs of torture.
In Balochistan, the situation is even worse. Hundreds of forced disappearances led to the setting up of a commission to probe into the matter. Soon after, dead bodies of those taken away started appearing along the roads and highways.
Those who accuse the agencies have often been dubbed as foreign agents and traitors. The accusation now comes from the leader of the opposition Ch Nisar Ali Khan whose family has served in the army generation after generation. Calling upon the COAS to rein in the agencies he said, “This is a national army, not mafia… Gen Kayani must stop such things which tarnish the army’s image.”
While one waits to see how the COAS responds, one is forced to ask the parliamentarians what they have themselves done during the last four years besides helplessly complaining about “a state within a state”. What was needed was to clearly spell out the scope and limitations of the ISI, MI and IB in the form of a binding charter. While the government and opposition made commendable joint moves like the 18th Amendment and an NFC Award, they singularly failed to fulfill their duty to the people to rein in the agencies. What has been treated as a non-event in Balochistan and elsewhere has weakened the federation. Unless the needed legislation is undertaken, the democratic system would remain in jeopardy.