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SC’s courageous decision

Published Apr 18, 2015 12:48am

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THE decision by the full bench of the Supreme Court to suspend the death sentences awarded by military courts to six convicted terrorists is the right and courageous one and ought to have been taken earlier. Far too many individuals in far too many quarters have cheered on the death sentences as just and deserved — with only the vaguest details of who has been convicted, under what circumstances and for what specific crimes having being revealed in the most shameful of circumstances.

Perversely, the Supreme Court itself is now being criticised for belatedly doing its job by supporters of military courts. In the desperation to wreak vengeance on militants for the ghastly atrocity that was Peshawar, the cheerleaders for military courts appear willing to sacrifice the structure and principles of the state itself. There must, at all times, be a basic separation of powers: parliament legislates, judiciary interprets. And at all times, all institutions of the state must hold the rights of the people paramount. Violate those principles and neither will militancy be eradicated nor will the society and state emerging from this war be recognisable as anything close to the foundational values of this country.

To critics of the Supreme Court’s temporary decision and proponents of the new, post-December regime of military courts, there is also a straightforward response. Yes, there is a desperate need to draw up a coherent and cohesive policy to fight militancy here, but military courts can be no part of such a strategy, in principle or in practice. Consider what is now known about the six men who were, before the Supreme Court’s intervention, sentenced to be executed in the name of the power that the people have invested in the state.

They were effectively sentenced to death (the appeals process under the new legislation will surely be even more abbreviated and limited than the trial itself) because the military has accused them of being terrorists. If the military is convinced of the militancy connections of these six men, and knows the specific crimes they have committed, why is it so difficult for the same evidence to be produced in a reasonable manner before reasonable individuals? The notion that the judiciary is an incurable ally of militancy is preposterous. By the same token that the military has convinced itself of the guilt of certain individuals, why can it not convince others of the same? The Supreme Court has done the right thing.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2015

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Comments (28) Closed



Jalaluddin S. Hussain Apr 18, 2015 03:45am

In view of Mr. Masood Hamid's murder, it is highly courageous of you to support decisions of the Supreme Court. It is newspaper like Dawn which may help in building democratic institutions in the long run.

ibrahim Apr 18, 2015 03:52am

hanging them wont end terrorism, its causes which is mind set of Pakistani society, education of toleration and diversity can do the job.

krishna Apr 18, 2015 07:07am

First of all, military has no role to play the role of judiciary and uphold its decision without giving the guilty a chance to defend. No where in the world - this anomaly is seen except in Pakistan. Unfortunately, every action of the politician, parliament and judiciary and civil law enforcement offices are made subordinate to Military and its establishment to self-serve their own needs - not that of the nation's citizens. Instead of protecting the borders, it has begun usurping the state and legislative powers , it is time to stop further inroads and separate these organs and fix their boundaries and duties at least from now on. Or else, the economic down- slide is inevitable.

Mian Shahid Mehmood Apr 18, 2015 09:32am

Right thing on part of SC was to take up the petitions which challenged the validity of 21st amendment to the Constitution and before actually taking up the cases of terrorists by the Military courts, the fate of such petition along with 21st amendment should have been decided. Now it appears to be bit aggressive order and it may ignite the feeling of confrontation between SC and Army.

CYRUS Apr 18, 2015 10:29am

If the accused attacked and killed Pakistani soldiers the courts can't afford go soft. That would not be courageous. What it will do is prove to terrorists and gangsters they can win and Pakistan will lose. If Pakistan loses Islamabad will be the final battle. There are enough guns in Pakistan for a revolution or a fascist takeover. In the end national survival must come before laws protecting civil rights. The Nawaz Sharif government and Pakistani liberals are on different tracks.

Riaz Apr 18, 2015 11:26am

Lawyers' business stands restored. SCBA more interested in lawyers business than eradication of terrorism. Human Rights Groups working for terrorists rights. NGOs working against hanging of terrorists/murderers too. Is there anyone interested in protection and welfare masses ?

AW Apr 18, 2015 11:45am

Under normal circumstances, military courts would be unacceptable but considering the threat we are under and in consideration to the fact that it will take time to fix our broken judicial systems, the military courts are the only interim solution

fg Apr 18, 2015 11:58am

@ibrahim You have forgot APS Massacre.

Annie Apr 18, 2015 12:44pm

@fg

No one can forget that incident but the point is that being strategic rather than being tactical seems to be more rational...

S.Khan Apr 18, 2015 01:27pm

i am not a supporter of hanging some one with out the due process and with out evidence. but might i ask the "editorial" are we to trust the same judges who have bailed out ajmal pahari , the same judges who after their retirement defend the like of Mumtaz Qadri (a man who confessed to his crime and was proud of it) Are we as a nation to trust these people to deliver justice to us, and when a terrorist case does come to their bench they claim that since they don't have protection and people are threatening them they let the accused go on the basis of lack of evidence. Military courts may not be perfect but we forget why they were implemented in the first to protect the judges and prosecution, from attacks and defend their identities the military has the resources to provide this, the judges however use their resources to line their own pockets, and cry havoc when one of them gets attacked.

Nadeem Apr 18, 2015 02:08pm

The purpose of due process is not to go soft. But to make sure that the person you are hanging is indeed the terrorist and not someone wrongly accused. Unless we have a justice system that takes due care in ensuring that only the guilty are punished, then what will we be the difference between us and them, who indiscriminately carry out their own version of "justice"

Just Someone Apr 18, 2015 02:14pm

Don't agree with Dawn on this.

Zak Apr 18, 2015 03:22pm

These were proven convicted criminals, who were caught and pleaded guilty. After ATC great work, crime went down massively. Now the SC has set us back, and it's incompetent 20 years trial with no judgement, is coming back. Murderers are distributing sweets. Target killers recruitment will begin. In this slow lumbering judicial system, only solace is, criminals die of old age,just waiting for a judgement in the case.

Sam Naqvi Apr 18, 2015 03:42pm

If the military is convinced of the militancy connections of these six men, and knows the specific crimes they have committed, why is it so difficult for the same evidence to be produced in a reasonable manner before reasonable individuals?......the fact is that it is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to produce the same evidence in a reasonable manner in front of our judiciary. The article lacks the required research.

KARACHI WALA Apr 18, 2015 03:59pm

Two wrongs do not make One right!

Muhammad Akram Apr 18, 2015 04:02pm

Courageous, yes may be! Right it is not, because the long suffering people of Pakistan have been been let down time and time after by the courts.

Laeeq,NY Apr 18, 2015 05:33pm

Once again these criminals will get away with the help of the apex courts. Same courts were not able to convict these criminals for years and were either set free or were given bail. Many of these judges were reluctant to convict these hard core criminals for security of their own lives. Now, if the government has created a channel to get rid of these criminals, they will obstruct the Justice.

Tanveer ul hassan Apr 18, 2015 05:37pm

why not the courts issued contempt of courts agiainst speaker voilation for PTI resignation and not action taken agaist urdu language making offical and why lady model is not punished still for money laundring

M. Siddique Apr 18, 2015 05:46pm

The position of Dawn editorial board should be supported fully. Military courts my be expeditious but may compromise justice.

M. Siddique Apr 18, 2015 05:49pm

@fg , dispensing justice is NOT an emotional decision.

BNS Apr 18, 2015 07:39pm

Correct. Everyone, including suspected militants, have an equal right of a fair trail and self defence.

M. Emad Apr 18, 2015 09:56pm

All death sentences / sentences awarded by Military Courts should be reviewed by the Pakistan Supreme Court.

Usman Apr 18, 2015 11:12pm

I totally agree and it is a basic right of every citizen of Pakistan to go to the highest court for his defence, especially when he is sentenced to death. Atleast somethong sane is done in Pakistan....

Usman Apr 18, 2015 11:13pm

Totally agree...Very good step

Mohammad Akhtar Apr 19, 2015 12:33am

This nation needs the military courts there is no doubt in my mind.

Manal Apr 19, 2015 01:31am

SC move would be a lot more credible if SC had a great track record for efficient trials, conviction and execution of sentences...

gula Apr 19, 2015 07:32am

And what about twenty first amendment. . How they can stop military courts after the said amendment? ??

Nader Ali, UK Apr 19, 2015 08:43pm

Yes Military court no problem, but be careful it is life and death question, we have to give them right of appeal in High court and final in Supreme court, right and courageous decision by Supreme Court to stop Military Court. Speed Trial Military court, than first appeal in High court and Supreme with full review if they think, otherwise let SC honarable judge of full court decision what ever best in the eye of law.