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Supreme Court orders production of jirga members, Wani girls

By: Amanullah Kasi

QUETTA: Taking notice of a jirga in Dera Bugti in which 13 girls were reported to have been made Wani (given away in marriage to settle a dispute), the Supreme Court ordered on Thursday that the matter be thoroughly investigated and the tribal elders involved be produced before court, along with the girls.

The Dera Bugti deputy commissioner informed a three-member bench that no-one was coming forward to give evidence in the case.

The bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja is hearing a petition on the law and order situation and human rights violations in Balochistan at the Quetta registry of the Supreme Court.

The chief justice said it appeared that the deputy commissioner was facing some problems in handling the matter and he did not know how many girls had been declared Wani — 13 or seven. The home secretary pleaded that he should be given some time to look into the matter and submit a report.

The Advocate General of Balochistan insisted that no such incident had taken place, but said that if any proof was provided it would be placed before the court. Justice Khawaja said the court was concerned about the life of the girls.

Tribal elder Sarfaraz Masuri, who had reported the holding of the jirga, said if it had not taken place then why the imam of a mosque in Bakar area had said in his Friday sermon that the custom of making girls Wani was against Islamic values.

The chief justice asked Mr Masuri to cooperate with the home secretary because the court could not leave the matter without ascertaining facts. He said the main priority of the court was to establish peace in Balochistan and recover missing persons.

The chief justice directed the customs authorities to submit a report on permits and non-duty paid tax vehicles in three weeks. Balochistan’s collector of customs informed the bench that on the orders of the court, 433 vehicles and motorcycles had been impounded.

Commander Shahbaz, an agency official, said the defence ministry had not issued permits for weapons. The chief justice said the Frontier Corps was deployed to provide security to the general public and not to increase their problems.

S.M. Zafar, the counsel for Frontier Corps, said it was a wrong perception that the FC was controlling the entire province. The provincial government always called the FC to assist police.

He said that since 2006, 432 personnel of the FC, police and Levies had lost their lives and 609 suffered injuries while protecting people. Mr Zafar claimed that government installations and other establishments in areas where the FC was deployed were completely safe.

The chief justice observed: “Yes, we accept that the FC is busy in restoring law and order but, at the same time, there are allegations that the FC is involved in the disappearance of people. In every second or third case, the FC is blamed.”

Justice Khawaja asked how many accused had been arrested in 1,036 incidents of target killings and other crimes. The chief justice asked why the culprits who had killed a number of FC personnel had not been arrested.