Wednesday April 24, 2024

Call for overhaul of criminal justice system in Pakistan

By Mehtab Haider
January 27, 2016


After accepting slow pace of implementation on the National Action Plan (NAP) by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the government requires implementation on it from all aspects, including overhauling criminal justice system, as nothing concrete has so far been done on this front.

“It is litmus test for the civil leadership to ensure implementation on nostalgic 365 days to deliver on all key 20 points of the NAP in true letter and
spirit in order to get rid of terrorism,” officials of security apparatus told The News in background discussions here on Monday.

The Ministry of Law has been working on a package in this regard but no one knows how much time it requires for this purpose. After heinous attack by terrorists at the Army Public School (APS) Peshawar, security experts took upon themselves by working on a question that what should be the model of counterterrorism campaign in Pakistan.

There are two counterterrorism models worldwide, namely war and criminal justice models. The pre-emption is strategic framework of war model, which requires enormous resources, state of the art technology and geo-strategic clout of US as Washington had conducted
hot pursuits in Afghanistan and Iraq by spending billions of dollars.

The second one is the criminal justice model that combines political initiatives, legal reforms and legislative framework, capacity building and restructuring of National Internal Security Apparatus (NISA) etc. Most nations have a combination of two models. The 20 points agenda of the NAP advocates the model of criminal justice to fight terrorism in Pakistan.

One top official quoted an example that fighting extremism in Pakistan would need controlling M7 i.e. Mullah, Microphone, Mobile, Money, Media and Madrassa.

The few agenda points pertaining to reforming criminal justice include lifting of moratorium on the execution of convicted terrorists and other criminals, 21st Amendment in the Constitution promulgated, establishment of military courts and NAP recommended revamping and reforming the criminal justice system.

“Ironically, Pakistan’s legal framework of criminal justice has serious flaws and requires an overhaul. It appears after coming of military courts to the fore, reforms process for the revamping of criminal justice system has taken a back seat,” said an official who knew ins and outs of implementing the NAP agenda.

Few agenda points of the NAP pertain to political decisions like registration and regulation of madrassas, expressing zero tolerance against militancy in Punjab, taking effective steps against religious persecution, bringing Karachi operation to a logical conclusion, initiation of Balochistan reconciliation process, Fata reforms and policy to deal with the Afghan refugees. Obviously, these are tough political decisions, requiring political will and consensus of all political parties.

It would be critical task for any government and the political process would be slow.

The government has taken some cursory measures of geo-tagging madrassas and asking them to register afresh, formed a committee on Fata reforms and confronts politicking on Karachi operation.

The resistance from some religious madrassas, their
educational boards and political expediencies inhabit taking
action against militants in Punjab.

In our political dispensation, the focus seems to be on politically calibrated decisions to be intolerable for political opponents, but politically sustainable for the parties in power. The notion of ‘politically sustainable decisions’ is fraught with political victimisation and serious challenges ahead.

Terrorism in Pakistan has become a reference and contains a large number of perpetrators such as non-state armed elements, political armed groups, sectarian assassins (proscribed organisations included), gangs of organised crimes and criminals, cyber crimes, money laundering and financial trials of criminals 

In this background, the official said, the NAP demanded NISA to counter hate speech and extremist material, choke terrorists’ financing and their organisations, ensure blocking re-emergence of proscribed organisations, establishing and deploying a dedicated counter-terrorism force to relieve Pakistan Army and paramilitary forces at least in capital cities, ban the glorification of terrorism and terrorist organisations, dismantle communication networks of terrorist organisations and implement measures against abuse of internet and social media for terrorism, they concluded.