A case for rethinking justice

Published: October 15, 2011
The writer is author of Military Inc.

The writer is author of Military Inc. [email protected]

The Lahore High Court recently ordered the provincial home ministry to take off the names of 25 Sipah-i-Sahaba activists from the police watch-list on the grounds that there was no material evidence against them. Thus, these people were taken off the Fourth Schedule which means that they no longer have to report their movement to the police. This basically means that another 25 men have gone back into action. Notwithstanding the general perception regarding the peculiar right-wing leanings of the Lahore High Court, the judgment itself is not erroneous since it was based on the lack of presentable evidence before the court to prove that the men were worth monitoring.

Given the conditions of policing in this country we may never be able to plug the gaps as far as terrorism is concerned. Just imagine the burden on the police in every part of the country. Our rising population, coupled with an increase in poverty and crime, all makes policing a very tough job. The additional burden of providing security to VIPs, and keeping a watch over those in the Fourth Schedule is far too much to ask of a police official. Under the circumstances, the only available option is to listen to the heads of the banned outfits when they promise that if allowed to operate on their own they will ensure that there are no cases of violence in their area. Furthermore, to ensure the good-heartedness of the state, those dealing with these outfits can then help in the expansion of the jihadi infrastructure, again with the expectation that nothing untoward will happen. The formula works until there is some difference of opinion and the jihadis need to feed their followers with real action. Perhaps, this is when the religious and sectarian minorities come of good use to the state as these could be conveniently sacrificed for buying some time from the jihadi friends.

The bottom line is that such collusion results in forcing the law enforcers not to collect appropriate evidence against people who in the past have been involved in nefarious activities, who have trained in Afghanistan and Kashmir, and who continue to be part of these militant outfits. Recently, a senior police office responsible for watching over the LeJ’s Malik Ishaq said that keeping an eye on the jihadi leader wasn’t a problem since he was doing it with the help of couple of intelligence informants which is all that he needed for the job. Clearly, his bosses had not informed him of Malik Ishaq’s capacity to run operations from his jail cell. In any case, the officer was of the view that Ishaq had become pro-Pakistan and was needed to rope in the unfriendly portions of the LeJ. Sadly, this is one of the oldest stories told to justify the continuation of one jihadi gang or the other. Not to mention the fact that it would perhaps take centuries to disabuse the LeJ’s head honcho of his sectarian bias.

But let’s suppose the intelligence officials did come up with some credible and incriminating evidence. The problem then would be getting the information to be accepted in a court of law. This is a huge issue that is faced by the legal system in general in that it does not, by and large, allow for admissibility of intelligence information. Likewise, intelligence officials are wary of presenting such information for fear of compromising their sources. So, here is a situation where even if the court were less lenient towards the jihadis it would still not be possible to pass a judgment using the argument that was used, for instance, in the Afzal Guru case in India where the superior court maintained the death sentence on the basis of its concern for public sentiment. This certainly cannot be done every day and is also a principle with a larger legal connotation that every judge may not want to consider, especially if the judiciary has certain ideological leanings. There is also the issue of judges being far too conservative to think ‘outside the box’ in entertaining evidence.

What is needed instead is a system by which the court is able to look through the intelligence information in the judges’ chamber in order to protect the intelligence source.

For those thinking of beefing-up counter-terrorism, bringing the higher judiciary on board to make the necessary changes in the system of adjudication is extremely important.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 16th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (18)

  • Max
    Oct 15, 2011 - 10:42PM

    You are forgetting one thing. The police in Pakistan is utterly corrupt, dishonest with a colonial attitude. Just think of Thanna culture and the language that they use. Recommend

  • Sirat-ul-mustaqeem
    Oct 15, 2011 - 10:56PM

    I m so depressed to read this article against Malik ishaq by a woman whose name is “ayesha siddiqa”. You want to know why thats because malik ishaq is fighting against those people who day and night abuse the names of Hazrat Abu bakar R.A and his daughter Ayesha R.A Umm-ul-momineen. And yes there is no case proven against malik ishaq, he is not the proven murderer which media is trying to make everyone believe. He is just raising his voice peacefully against the abusing of Sahaba R.A, which is also not acceptable to the majority of Pakistani muslims.Recommend

  • M Baloch
    Oct 16, 2011 - 12:36AM

    You must be kidding madam, do you really think it is problem of lacking evidences or judiciary hasn’t “spine” to name them? I hope you remember the days when police officers investigating Riaz Basra were going with masks in Jail or Shari brothers stopped sending their children to school due to LeJ fears, history taught them and they have learned great lessons and things has much progressed now, Sharifs say they are on same page with Taliban and the judiciary (not police) is overloaded for taking suo-motos of liquor, and of course it is not 1990s and now “most near to Jihadis” is the fittest model of survival so please don’t blame police, they are innocents…!


  • Umer
    Oct 16, 2011 - 12:40AM

    Sirat-ul-Mustaqqm: If Malik Ishaq is innocent then there is nothing to fear. The police or intelligence will never be able to find any evidence against him. So, why the worry?


  • faraz
    Oct 16, 2011 - 3:07AM


    Perhaps you don’t know that pamphlets issued by LeJ contain death fatwas and they take responsibility of their acts. Malik Ishaq admitted that he had committed murders, and all the witnesses were killed. And to achieve that ‘true Islam’, you need to kill about 25 million Pakistanis. Why doesn’t Molana Ishaq propose a new Two Nation theory based on sects, or does he plan to kill those 25 million?


  • Geronimo
    Oct 16, 2011 - 3:27AM

    @ Sirat-ul-Mustaqeem:

    What an amazing logic..! Protect the integrity of the sahaba by killing and maiming fellow muslims, spread hatred through vitriolic sermons, call a large cross section “Kafir” because they believe in something different, bay for the blood of minorities and raise a large militant wing to spread mayhem and destruction…. and for you this is “legitimate” because we need to protect the honour and integrity of the holy people…

    You sound like that senator from Baluchistan who refused to condemn the murderers that buried some women alive on the suspicion of “planning to elope” by saying that we will defend our traditions in the parliament.

    This is the the true, medieval, stone age and delusionary mindset that makes Pakistan as the most isolated nation on earth and gives jitters to the entire civilized world about the prospects of this nation turning into a nightmare for the entire world.

    May god save us from ourselves…!!


  • Oct 16, 2011 - 3:45AM


    You maybe depressed, but I’m glad there are writers like Ayesha Siddiqa who aren’t steeped in narrow-minded hate and fanaticism and pro-actively condemns such folks, rather than condone it.

    Your religious prejudice and resentment clearly shows, besides your extremist support.

    Does defending Sahabas include indulging in hounding, killing and sectarian cleansing of an entire community, besides other terrorist activities such as the Sri Lanka cricket team attack and having links with Al Qaeda and the Taliban?

    Malik Ishaq and his group, L-e-J, are an illegal outfit. Their an extremist, bigoted anti-minority, specifically anti-Shia, sectarian hate group and known terrorists with a violent militant history, who even proudly claim the massacres they carry. Thanks to them there’s a stronger culture of intolerance and radicalization and militancy than ever before in Pakistan.

    I don’t know whether it’s delusion or simply being disingenuous, but you’re calling a man who advocates violence in his speeches (and I’m sure you’re aware of his speeches) against Pakistan’s Muslim Shia minority ‘peaceful’?

    Tell that to his victims and the judges and lawyers he threatens.Recommend

  • Santosh
    Oct 16, 2011 - 6:31AM

    Reading your comment above and the fact that it is the most recommended, just proves to the rest of the world how far Pakistan has fallen, and why there is no hope left for the country. There was a time when Pakistanis would claim that support for the right wing jihadis is only in the minority, and that the vast majority of Pakistanis are peace-loving moderates.

    Unfortunately, this is no longer true. Today, the majority of Pakistanis have become radicalized. It is sentiments such as yours that have convinced outsiders like us that Pakistan is doomed to become another Afghanistan of the 1990s.


  • Mirza
    Oct 16, 2011 - 6:39AM

    @Sirat-ul-mustaqeem: The Sahaba and Ayesha and likes PBUT, are not that weak and fragile to seek support from terrorists in Jhung. They would live in history without the help of fanatics. When Abraha was coming to destroy Kaaba, the grandfather of our prophet told him that I am not worried about that, its owner (God) would take care of that. That custodian of Kaaba did not behave like the terrorist organizations of killers in this country. He had faith in God and God did save him and Kaaba both. The terrorists are a poor excuse for humans let alone doing any service to anybody. Recommend

  • Mir
    Oct 16, 2011 - 8:21AM

    if Malik Ishaq gets stipend from government of Punjab then who gonna get him, and if deep state is protecting jihadis compromising lives of minorities then who cares? neither judiciary nor police would stand against banned outfits.


    Oct 16, 2011 - 10:01AM

    Thank and salutes to you for raising your voice


  • Jingo
    Oct 16, 2011 - 10:42AM

    There was many eye witnesses and other proves against him, and he was the killer of dozens of shia. Even his organisation still taking responsibilities of all the sectarian massacre in country. Still you feel him innocent?
    You talk about judiciary, its the same judiciary who released Dr. Usman who later launched an attack on GHQ.
    You might have seen all abusing sahaba thing on any youtube videos, or any molvi told you all this in your madarsa. If some morons are doing this then who give you the right to kill every shia?
    People like you are the biggest threat to this country.


  • Sajjad Ashraf
    Oct 16, 2011 - 11:50AM

    My friends participating in this debate, in my view, have missed the point again. Why blame the low placed officials. Good friends, the rot begins at the head. The fish start decaying from the head, the snow melts from the top… there is a message in these universal truths.

    Get 5 top people in this county, punish them on their accumulated wealth and corruption and you will reform this society. There are no secrets to clean government.


  • Nadeem
    Oct 16, 2011 - 12:29PM

    Disagree entirely with the author’s proposal (get the judiciary to accept intelligence data inside a closed room without getting too much into ‘who collected the data’, and ‘how it was collected’ ). Even if we were to accept this remedy, it would first require a lot of homework to build a consensus between judiciary, police, intelligence agencies, and lawmakers. So why not just put all that effort into the correct direction: i.e. making the police both capable and apolitical. It may be harder work than the author’s proposal, but that’s how it’s done in successful countries.


  • Sirat-ul-mustaqeem
    Oct 16, 2011 - 1:53PM

    @Mirza: I agree that Allah will protect his beloved one, but atleast we should raise a peaceful voice so that the issue gets resolved in the parliament and inshaAllah we should not let sectarian issues damage the peace in Pakistan.

    @Santosh: Dont worry we will not let that happen and you better worry about india and its own issues , i think there are a lot of them and dont tell us what to do and what not to do.


  • H
    Oct 16, 2011 - 8:26PM

    @ santosh, the fact that u only noticed and talked about the comment by one radical sirat ul mustqim and the likes his post got while ignoring the manyyy other comments criticizing him and the likes those posts got shows that ‘outsiders like you’ are even more biased and radical than those u criticize.


  • Hashmi
    Oct 16, 2011 - 10:45PM

    I disagree with the author but I disagree with you more. First of all the sect you are pointing to does not disrespect the Sahabahs. There is a fatwa from their grand Ayotallah that they are not allowed to curse any sahaba.

    You must get out of this hatred. I can say for certain that you are going opposite to the Sunnah of our beloved Rasul (May peace be upon him)


  • Hasan Mehmood
    Oct 18, 2011 - 10:11AM

    “peaceful voice”
    You mean that while lining up and killing innocent bus passengers of a minority sect, we should use silencers on the guns?


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