Wednesday June 07, 2023

SC sets a noble tradition

A very large-hearted and noble tradition has been set by Supreme Court full bench headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk by restricting its own powers and jurisdiction and sharing some of it for better dispensation of justice – the trial of terrorists by military courts. This is what the 4th

By MAK Lodhi
August 09, 2015
A very large-hearted and noble tradition has been set by Supreme Court full bench headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk by restricting its own powers and jurisdiction and sharing some of it for better dispensation of justice – the trial of terrorists by military courts. This is what the 4th pillar of the state – judiciary – has done.
The full bench of the Supreme Court has given its mind in its own domain. Even, the dissenting notes of judges haven’t directly opposed the idea of military courts for a limited period of time and dealt only with legal nuances. The other three pillars of the state, legislature, executive and media were already on board. The decision is a milestone and holds monumental significance, indeed.
The public at large has heaved a sigh of relief at the prospect of a better tomorrow, a new Pakistan and above all, a robust nation. Now the question is where to go from here?
There were two basic impediments in the way to fully uproot the evil of terrorism which took 37 long years (1977- 2014) for its growth and nourishment to become a fully grown multi-headed monster. Two generations of bitter harvests were sown, grown before finally awakening and alerting to the menace.
It is the beginning of another journey now. The revival of an enlightened Pakistan to its pristine glory is still miles and miles away. It will be like confronting another river to cross after passing through one. First of all, as far as the military courts are concerned, it must be borne in mind why civilian courts had failed to deliver and hand down equitable and matching punishment to hardened criminals. Corruption and intimidation were the two worst shortcomings of the trial courts.
Military courts, under the inspiration of its present leadership, will, hopefully, remain impregnable and impervious to the double-headed evil. But that will not be enough. Military courts will have to fulfill legal procedures, record full evidence, keep witnesses

firm on ground besides maintaining circumstantial and forensic footprint of the evil-doers.
Military courts therefore will be an added component to the highly successful Zarb-e-Azb campaign and keep in view that superior judiciary, as the verdict says, will be overseeing the dispensation of justice or the lacking thereof.
So far so good, but what about the civilian role for the complete elimination of the twin menace of extremism and terrorism in all its forms and its contagious impact over the bleak crime outlook of the country? Military can defeat terrorists but who will defeat the mindset of terrorism? Military can annihilate standing bitter harvests but who will stop the growth of fresh ones?
Thursday’s newspapers where they carried the SC verdict, also displayed address of a religious party leader and his unwavering support to what he called “Taliban and Islam” being in danger due to disunity in their ranks over the selection of their leader. He is openly and flagrantly trying to re-organise Taliban across Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Is it not abetment to crime, strictly speaking in legal terms? Is it not against the very spirit of Zarb-e-Azb? Why such institutions or madaris are not shut down? Why such religious scholars or Ulema who had been backing and pushing terrorists not apprehended?
The government is in the know of that many seminaries involved directly or supporting the cause of terrorism. Why has it not taken any action, loud and clear, so far? Why the government has not categorically divested religion and terrorism. To be a religious and pious person and running a seminary is one thing, to promote extremism of various hues and shades and raising the ante to the highpoint of terrorism is quite another.
It has been fully established that many of the religious seminaries have been functioning as the grass-root nurseries for terrorism. Why have there been no reforms to date? The seminaries are still teaching more than 200-years-old heterogeneous syllabi and rendering a huge disservice to Islam instead of being its torch-bearers. Why does the government seem reluctant in plugging the fountains of terrorism?
How long will the loyal forces continue fighting against terrorism if the feedback to the monster is not cut out altogether? Why can’t the government formulate and implement uniform syllabi for all the seminaries, modernize them and bring them in the mainstream educational system of the country?
It is high time for the political leadership of the country to realise that extremism/terrorism and religion are polls apart. It must launch an operation against those abetting the crime, morally and materially. The political government must share its responsibility and make tangible efforts to spread a soft and mild image of Islam, a religion of peace and brotherhood that it is and which is professed by the majority of people of Pakistan. No rocket science is needed to understand that no religio-political party has ever been successful at the ballot box. Pakistan is a country of moderates and liberals upon whom extremism was being imposed by force as the hardliners knew they couldn’t succeed at the ballot.
It is imperative for a moderate government like that of the PML-N and its allies that people continue to repose their trust in them whenever they seek their (people’s) mandate. Haven’t people of Pakistan suffered a lot for an overdose of religiosity? Extremism only bred contempt and hatred among various segments of a pluralist society of Pakistan and atomized it. That Pakistan can’t be a secular state, a term that haunts and confuses many, may still not be acceptable but it must be borne in mind that a nation can best flourish as a plurality, vested with inclusive participation of all its segments and schisms, socially and politically.
Army can only defeat hardened terrorists but the mindset of terrorism has to be defeated, as chief minister, Punjab Shahbaz Sharif once put it. Army is killing its own Frankenstein but the civilians will have to kill their own Frankenstein.
The present government owes its people a wider role to play in this war. It must also evolve political consensus to purge the Constitution which was tinkered with during Zia regime. Yes, it is very difficult to go against something that some of its leaders did out of political expediency. But what holy purpose the clauses infused and yoked in the Constitution serve now? As they had been inserted by a government under a dictator’s ubiquitous influence, they lacked authenticity, sacredness as well as legality.
The government also needs to open up and let people of Pakistan live the way want to, without transgressing the limits of liberal frontiers. What people see on TV channels with eyes wide open as a passive enjoyment should be allowed to them. The fruits of liberty should be shared with the down-trodden as well. They need civil liberties. They need more rights to lead a better life.
Undoing the past wrongs to the people of Pakistan will indeed be the first stage of heralding a new Pakistan. If this government will not, there will be another to complete the task. The vicious circle must be broken and give way to a ‘virtuous circle’.