At the mercy of criminals
By Professor Ali Sukhanver
A few days back, Chaudhry Aslam khan, the SSP CID Karachi said in an interview with a private TV channel that unless courts give a legal authenticity to the evidence of the police officials particularly in cases of terrorism, the giant of terrorism cannot be chained. It is a common complaint that in most of the cases people from common public lack courage to appear before the court and record their evidence against any terrorist activity. They are frightened of the threats of grave consequences from the terrorists they have to face as a result of such evidences. Not only against the terrorist activities, for a common man is it next to impossible to stand against even a pick-pocket or street-criminal. Most of the people are of the view that they are at the mercy of the criminals when they come out of the court premises after giving their statement against such criminals. This is the reason that in the last ten or fifteen years we find countless accused criminals who were proved guilty by the police but without sufficient evidence the courts could not send them behind the bars. In such cases the police or other law-enforcing agencies are left with only one option; to pay back the criminals in the same coin though this option gives birth to another type of injustice. The situation is getting worse and worse with the passage of time and would never be controlled unless the law of evidence is modified.
In Pakistan today we find an air of hue and cry regarding the matter of the ‘missing persons’. Every day the relatives of ‘missing persons’ are seen raising slogans against their disappeared near and dear ones whom they think have been abducted by the law-enforcing agencies of Pakistan . Some of these missing persons are said to be involved in GHQ, Hamza Camp and Kamra Base attacks which claimed the lives of so many soldiers and officials of Pakistan army and the ISI and of so many civilians. According to various media reports, in 2007-08, eleven suspects were taken in custody by the security forces with reference to their involvement in these attacks. During the process of apprehension a large number of destructive weapons and lethal material was also recovered form their possession which was later on handed over to police as evidence for prosecution. After confirming their involvement in these terrorist activities, they were produced in the court of law but they got acquitted from Anti Terrorist Court Rawalpindi. Since many innocent civil and military persons were killed and injured in these attacks, the eleven suspects were again detained by the security forces under section 16- MPO. However on 28 May 2010, Rawalpindi Bench of Lahore HC declared their detention under section 16-MPO illegal and ordered their release. On the day of their release from jail, the relatives of these acquitted suspects were there outside the jail to welcome them and took them back along with them. God knows better how this impression later on got spread that the people waiting for them outside the jail were not their relatives and friends but the officials of intelligence agencies. A few days later the members of the families of these released persons submitted a writ petition to the Supreme Court of Pakistan in which they declared them as missing persons. Now the case is in the honourable court and things would be settled very soon but the situation could not have been so confusing and conflicting if the evidence of security officials were considered valid in the court.
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Pakistan is passing through the ever worst phase of its life. The war on terror has relentlessly shattered and scattered the whole of social structure in Pakistani society. Thousands of people have been deprived of their lives and the economic set-up is facing the brunt of unimaginable losses. A sense of insecurity, fear and uncertainty has engulfed the whole society. The law-enforcing agencies are the last ray of hope in this miserable and pathetic state of affairs. Though they are doing their best to clean up the mess spread by this so-called war on terror but in the name of legalities the perpetrators of terrorism are creating hindrances to their way. Whenever these agencies succeed in unveiling the horrid faces of the terrorists behind a terrorist activity and hand over the culprits to the police or any other responsible authority, the patrons of these culprits take full advantage of the loop-holes in the judicial system of Pakistan where ‘evidence’ plays the most important role in settling the matter.
All over the world, it is a very common practice that law-enforcing and investigating agencies detain the suspects till the investigation is over and after that they hand them over to the courts for prosecution. During this process neither the media nor the common public blames these agencies of any kind of injustice or unfairness because they are considered to be doing efforts in the larger interest of the nation. Just cast a look at the Dr.Affia case. ‘Dr. Aafia Siddiqi Case – A Detailed Story of Lies and Deception by the Americans’ is the title of an article which appeared somewhere in January 2010 at different international websites Here is an extract from that article, ‘The American kept her under rigorous detention in Bagram jail (Afghan equivalent of Guantanamo Prison) and were not accepting her presence until the story was shared by ex inmates of the jail to the media. She was constantly tortured for 5 years and was sexually and physically abused each and every day for 5 consecutive years while the American put their best resources at work to find a single flaw in her past. Ironically, they failed to find a single wrong in her past and hence Americans were in a fix how to get rid of her.’
It is a day-light fact that Dr.Affia was never involved in any terrorist activity but it was simply the ‘evidence’ of the investigation team and the officials of the US security forces which proved her guilty and on the basis of that evidence, she was pushed behind the bars. From our point of view, whatever the Americans did with that innocent lady was injustice and brutality but from the US point of view they did what they thought fertile in the larger interest of their nation. The war against terror has now converted into a war between the security forces of Pakistan and the non-state terrorists. The security agencies of Pakistan would never win this war unless they are given special privilege particularly with reference to the ‘evidence’ in courts.