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IHC Orders Formation of Commission to Probe Profiling of Baloch Students

Chief Justice Athar Minallah says government should dissolve Ministry of Human Rights if it cannot end racial profiling, disappearances

by Newsweek Pakistan

Farooq Naeem—AFP

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday directed authorities to form a commission to investigate the racial profiling and disappearances of Baloch students across Pakistan, adding that a mechanism should be developed to end this practice.

Hearing a petition filed by students of Islamabad’s Quaid-e-Azam University against their harassment, Chief Justice Athar Minallah said courts could not turn a blind eye to human rights violations in the country. In addition to ordering the formation of a commission to probe the harassment and disappearances of Baloch students, he also sought suggestions for who could head it.

In the previous hearing, Justice Minallah had asked President Arif Alvi to dispel the impression of ethnic profiling of the Baloch students. In today’s hearing, the students’ lawyer—Imaan Hazir—said that while the president had twice met the students and given assurances, Baloch students were continuing to be abducted with impunity. Referring to Bebgar Imdad, a student of National University of Modern Languages in Islamabad, she said he had been picked up from Lahore’s Punjab University just a day earlier. Another student, Dildar Baloch, was picked up from Karachi, she added.

“It seems the government is not taking the matter related to Baloch students seriously,” she said and urged the court to order the Higher Education Commission to issue notices to all varsities preventing them from harassing Baloch students.

Regretting that governments and political leaders were “ignoring” the real issue of Baloch harassment, Justice Minallah said that if such racial profiling continued, then the government should shut down the Ministry of Human Rights. “Don’t say that the state is weak,” he said.

“Why is there a human rights ministry when neither the previous government nor this one did anything?” he asked. “Do not say there is a law and order situation, why should children be affected by this?” he said, adding that political parties’ statements were different depending on whether they were in or out of power.

Representing the government, the deputy attorney general argued that with a new government in office, he had to take fresh directions on the issue. He noted that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had also recently visited Balochistan and vowed to address the issue of missing persons. To this, the IHC CJ questioned if the federal cabinet were unaware of what was happening in the country. He then directed the secretary of the interior to visit the Baloch students and set up a mechanism to deal with their complaints.

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