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Fighting militancy: judicial reforms

December 20, 2012

TAKING into account the situation in which the army has been engaged in fighting militancy while economic conditions are profusely deteriorating by the day, the government remains unable to delineate any special policy regarding the faulty prosecution system developed to try militants, enabling these hardcore criminals and terrorists to evade punishment and to pursue their wicked agenda while soldiers and innocent civilians face terrible consequences in the form of a war that lingers unendingly.

Unlike the US, where the department of defence has created a special military commission to effectively try individuals who have either attempted or carried out acts of terrorism, Pakistan has failed to develop any such similar and adequate mechanism for the prosecution of prisoners and convicts who have been caught red-handed by security forces during acts of terrorism or during the operations launched by the army.

Multiple court cases have been witnessed during which various militants arrested for their alleged role in suicide bombings have been acquitted due to lack of tangible evidence.

Ibne Amin, one of the most powerful Taliban commanders in Swat, was released from court after being cleared of all charges against him due to lack of evidence. The acquittal of Dr Usman and Tehseen Ullah by the anti-terrorism court in a case of planning and executing the deadly suicide attack at Marriott hotel and the subsequent orders of their release by the LHC are a stark indicator of procedural anomaly of Pakistani courts, as he later reorganised himself to perpetrate a deadly assault on army GHQ.

The fault here lies not with the intentions of the people but the defective system that fails to provide adequate security and protection to those who dare to stand against such hardened and influential criminals.

In fact, judges, lawyers and witnesses in such vital cases are in a vulnerable position as they stand against a threatening force without the state apparatus to back them up.

Intimidated by threats of being targeted or appeased by heavy sums offered as bribe, the verdicts of these cases easily sway in favour of these militants who by now fully comprehend the legal system along with its multiple loopholes that serve as windows of freedom to blatantly and fearlessly exercise their missions.

The continued wave of suicide bombings and attacks on crowded places screams for a need to redefine the role of the judiciary in the current scenario in order to curb the menace so that tangible results are achieved so that sacrifices of our security forces do not go to waste.