SC points out loopholes in anti-terror fight

SC judgment highlights loopholes in present system to counter terrorism activities


Hasnaat Mailk February 02, 2018
Supreme Court of Pakistan. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court of Pakistan has highlighted loopholes, deficiencies in the present system to counter terrorism activities.

The remarks were made as a three-judge bench, headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa comprising Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel, issued a detailed judgment on Tuesday regarding the acquittal of four accused in the 2008 attack on former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in Rawalpindi.

The 18-page order authored by Justice Dost stressed that “simply and exclusively relying on the armed forces and semi-armed forces killing terrorists in an encounter is not a complete solution to the elimination of the monster evil of terrorism.”

“The most effective tool is the prevention of such crime.”

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It adds that effective and skillful investigation of the crime and efficient prosecution of the terrorist in judicial process before the Anti-Terrorism Courts (ATC) would suppress and eliminate the menace of high magnitude.

The court observed that equipping ATC with modern gadgets and facilities and providing full protection to presiding judges, prosecutors, investigators and prosecution witnesses would provide enough safeguards in recording convictions keeping in view the emerging situation in the country.

SC noted that a combined network of all intelligence agencies put to correct channel to timely share data shall be needed to prevent the occurrence of such crimes. If the intelligence network is properly organised and combined together it would effectively plug the funding and secret financial sources now falling into the hands of terrorist organisations.

“The impossible would become possible if the outreach of the agencies/law enforcing authorities is made formidable and extraordinarily effective. The present system suffers from many loopholes and deficiencies in many ways to counter the menace of terrorism.”

The judgment said that government and state institutions responsible for security are required to chisel out the blunt tools i.e. the investigating agencies and the prosecution to come to the expectations of the people in the changed scenario.

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“This requires allocation of sufficient funds for the purpose to impart high skill and knowledge to these agencies including training through foreign experts. At the same time, modern digital forensic labs/center of excellences in the provinces and Federal Capital be established on urgent basis with highly qualified staff on the subject of forensic science so that the real culprits involved in such ruthless and detestable crimes are timely punished for the crimes they commit,” the order reads.

Highlighting the process of convicting, the judgment adds that judicial obligation must be performed in a strict judicial manner observing safeguards and precautions laid down in the high court rules and orders. It added that printed proforma containing questionnaire is not to be used as it amounts to filling the blanks and is not in accord with the requirements of law and rules.

“In view of the changing trend of investigation, particularly in sensitive cases and keeping in view the phenomenon of forced disappearance of people and because in some cases the accused are not kept in the lock-up of the notified police station therefore, the following additional questions may be put to accused person, when a situation of this nature arises, like (i)When and by whom you were arrested and from which place. (ii)Where you were kept during custody by the police/investigating agency. (iii)Whether previously you were produced before any other Magistrate for recording confession and you had refused to confess.”

The order further notes that mobile, digital forensic laboratory be provided as a backup force to reach any place well in time to collect forensic evidence from the crime scene and the surroundings.

The bench observed that combined network of all intelligence agencies put to correct channel to timely share data shall be needed to prevent the occurrence of such crimes. If the intelligence network is properly organised and combined together it would effectively plug the funding and secret financial sources now falling into the hands of the terrorist organisations.

The court directed that all these suggestions and recommendations may be forwarded to the concerned the departments of the provinces as well as authorities assigned the task to counter terrorist activities. The bench also remarked that restoration of peace in the country will attract foreign investment.

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