ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday directed the President of Pakistan to meet the Baloch students to address their grievances and ensure measures for their safety. IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, while hearing the petition against the harassment of the Baloch students, ordered the secretary to the President of Pakistan to submit a report in this regard on next hearing.
He also ordered the interior secretary to meet the Baloch students for ensuring their safety, stressing the need for eliminating the fear of harassment or abduction of Baloch students in their province.
The deputy attorney general adopted before the court that the president had met the interior secretary regarding safety of the Baloch students and addressing their grievances. He, on account of the current circumstances, sought some time for a meeting of the Baloch students with the president.
Lawyer Zainab Janjua informed the high court that the students were not going homes in Balochistan fearing their abduction there. There is no justification for what is happening to Baloch students. Whatever the current situation may be, it does not matter,said the IHC chief justice.
Where had the missing student been for so long? Why should a student go missing for even one day? he added.
The court exercises restraint which is taken lightly. The interior minister tells the Baloch students that he is only a one-day guest. What kind of attitude is this? The country cannot run like this,he expressed his displeasure.
The students of Balochistan are the favorite students of this court. All reservations of the Baloch students should be addressed, but it is not happening. Why should the students be afraid of going to their province? he pointed out.
It is the responsibility of the federal government to address the reservations of the Baloch students, but the government does not meet them. This court expects the President of Pakistan to ensure the safety of the Baloch students, he stated. He directed all the universities of Islamabad not to allow racial profiling of students, the court asked the president.
Lawyer for the Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) informed the court about the formation of a committee on the issue. The university has also sought an answer from the professor about whom the students have reservations, he added. The court then adjourned the case for a week.
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) deplored the conduct of the president and state functionaries for not addressing the legitimate concerns of Baloch students protesting in Islamabad against disappearance of their missing colleague.
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah asked President Dr Arif Alvi to dispel the impression of racial profiling of the Baloch students.He was hearing a petition filed by rights activist Imaan Zainab Hazir against harassment of the protesting students.
The students belonging to Balochistan and at present studying at the Quaide-i-Azam University (QAU) apprehended that they would be harassed and abducted if they visited their hometowns.
The court observed: “The most alarming and disturbing aspect observed by the Court during the proceedings in hand has been the conduct of the public office holders and the lack of empathy on their part. The students have endeavored to be heard by the public functionaries but their conduct has remained indifferent.”
The court noted that “There cannot be a graver grievance for a citizen to feel that he/she is being subjected to racial profiling or is not being treated equally. The court deprecates the conduct of the public office holders as has been observed during the proceedings.”
The court directed the secretary to the president to place a copy of the order before him. The grievance regarding racial profiling cannot and must not be tolerated. In case of students of Balochistan such a grievance becomes more profound.
“The Chancellor of the University i.e. worthy President of Pakistan is expected to take appropriate action, in consultation with the Chancellors of other Universities, so as to demonstrably dispel any apprehension regarding racial profiling of students belonging to the province of Balochistan,” it added.
“But what is most alarming is the response of the State and its public functionaries. The Minister of Interior had met them pursuant to the Court’s direction but the meeting appears to have been a mere formality,” the court order said, adding: “The Chancellor of the University i.e. the worthy President has not met them as yet.”
A deputy attorney general informed the court that the chancellor of the university – the president – had set a date to meet the students, but on account of unavoidable circumstances it could not be materialised.
He added that the president was given a briefing by the secretary, Ministry of Interior.
The court noted that the grievances raised by the students were not only intolerable but they manifested one of the most gravest forms of violations of the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution.
The secretary Ministry of Interior was directed to reach out to the petitioners and the students of Balochistan at the QAU and take such actions as he may deem appropriate to ensure that concerns relating to security while visiting their hometowns are addressed.
The court directed the registrar office to send copies of the order to the secretary to the president and the secretary Ministry of Interior are direct them to submit their reports before the date fixed. Further hearing in the matter was adjourned till April 15.