The top court in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Balochistan has said it, not the provincial government, should nominate the members of a proposed judicial commission to investigate the recent death of opposition politician Usman Khan Kakar.
Kakar, the leader of the nationalist Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) in Balochistan and a staunch critic of Pakistan’s powerful military and intelligence agencies, died at a hospital in Karachi on June 21.
The authorities have said the initial investigation suggested that the former senator succumbed to injuries caused by a fall, but family members and leaders of his party claim he was wounded in an attack.
In a letter to the Balochistan High Court on June 27, the province’s Interior Ministry called for the formation of a two-member judicial commission comprising Justices Naeem Afghan and Zaheer Kakar to investigate the cause of Kakar’s death.
But the Balochistan High Court (BHC) sent a letter to the ministry the next day saying the court’s chief justice has the authority to nominate members of such a commission rather than the government.
In his letter, the BHC registrar suggested that Balochistan's government send a new letter to the court leaving the right for the chief justice to nominate the members of the commission.
The 60-year-old Kakar was found unconscious on June 17 in his house in Quetta, the provincial capital, with initial reports suggesting he had injured himself after falling on the floor.
The politician was first admitted to a hospital in Quetta where he underwent head surgery and was later transferred to Karachi’s Agha Khan Hospital. Family members and officials of his party say he was wounded in an attack inside his house.
Kakar, who had mentioned receiving death threats, had openly criticized the military, accusing it of meddling in politics and undermining human rights. The Pakistani military has always rejected such allegations as baseless.
He was also known for his outspoken remarks in support of freedom of expression, human rights, and democratic values.