Surrendering the memories

Published: December 28, 2014
The writer is a Lahore-based lawyer

The writer is a Lahore-based lawyer

“Always show good news first and if possible at bedtime also. (sic)”, “[Shouldn’t] repeat bad news too often.”

These lines can be from George Orwell or the North Korean handbook for good life. These are the recommendations made by the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage, to regulate media coverage. Must we turn everything into a cruel joke? It seems we must. One hundred and thirty-two children died and all we have by means of a response is meaningless sloganeering, calls for blood, executions and military courts.

December 27, for the past few years is, unbearably tragic as is, and now there is the Peshawar massacre anniversary so close by to contend with. One misses Shaheed BB acutely and even if for the sake of thought experiment imagine, if things would have been different. She had her share of weaknesses, lack of courage — moral and physical — was not one of them. One of the most repulsive moments of the aftermath of BB’s assassination was Imran Khan’s callous and idiotic statement saying that “she only had herself to blame”. Reflect on this, “only herself”, not even the actual physical murderers? She was first of this batch of martyrs, the numbers will rise still. Her assassination was also the first time dangerous idiocy was used to score petty political points in this round. We did not know how to react to her death. Imran Khan and the likes deliberately sowed confusion by attempting to absolve the TTP. There are many things that the Commando should be held accountable for; this is at the top of the list.

Those who branded and marketed the TTP as our “estranged brothers”, “who do not seek to enforce Sharia on gun point” and “should have offices opened” for way too long, now are those who ask for “these barbarians to executed in public” since “they are not Muslims”, “Not Humans” and are enraged at the “liberal fascists” for making excuses to soften the “decisive action” against the TTP, etc. Their striking quality in life is the absence of irony. When the “liberal fascists” asked for the TTP to be held accountable for their atrocities, amounting to war crimes, everything from the ignorant parallels of the IRA to ad hominem “Western-paid, blood-lusting agents” was thrown in response.

The Peshawar school massacre is as grim a human tragedy that one can ever witness. However, are we to believe to that the ‘State’ have had a paradigm shift overnight? Are we to believe that fan boys and fan girls of the State have had a change of heart and are now trying very hard to make up for lost time, by compensating for in viciousness which they lacked in consistency? Very well, amen, we do. Yet, that is not enough. We are further not to question how the ‘decisive action’ will be taken. No, no questions about poor Malik Ishaq who perpetually finds himself implicated, falsely it turns out at each instance in criminal cases, yet justice does prevail and he racks up acquittals. Mentioning Mr Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi’s recent grant of bail is not allowed, don’t you know it is time for ‘decisive action’?

No questions are allowed to the youthia apologists either. Were you wrong in construing them as “our estranged brothers” before, and just found out that they are CIA agents, the lot of them? Does that mean all of it (50,000 deaths in case you are wondering) was not “justifiable retaliation” to drone strikes? Was Mr Hakimullah Mehsud not a ‘Shaheed’? Or was he, if so, is Mr Fazlullah a ‘ghazi’ or not? One can do this for very long and with no real effect. Since it is really the “liberal fascists” who are too be blamed and once we have executed the Taliban, you know the “hard core” ones (as opposed to the “soft core” terrorists?), we will Inshallah, publicly execute the “liberal fascists” for err… doing something evil.

The demand to hold the TTP and all hate-fueled militias accountable was and is unexceptionable, however, what happened at the All-Parties Conference (APC) was the ultimate insult to the memory of Shaheed BB and the young ones of the Army Public School, Peshawar. “Military courts” is the solution. BB was murdered by the same murderer as those kids in Peshawar. The murderer is hydra-headed, it is both State and non-State, it is both rural and urban, it cuts across party, ethnic, social and economic lines, and military courts don’t stand a chance; and as a side point are illegal. It requires changing the security doctrine by the GHQ with no militant assets of any description; and a refusal to hobnob with sectarian outfits by mainstream political parties as a starting point.

The APC’s decision or request for military courts is the flag of surrender by Pakistan’s democratic civilian class. They are not up to this fight. It was for Pakistan’s civilian democracy that BB died; yet all those indebted to her seem intent to bury her memory and struggle with the children in Peshawar. Mian Nawaz Sharif is simply not up for the job. Imran Khan changes his stance on the TTP with a breathtaking lack of embarrassment probably because as Ahmad Faraz’s words go, “bus iss qadr thaa, kay darbar say bulawa thaa”.

Spirits sink also to see those who have been at the receiving end of military courts, the PPP, the ANP and the MQM to cower, and to not say what they know to be the right position. If a constitutional amendment is needed to set up the military courts, why not bring these amendments to empower the civilian courts? Military courts are the statement that the State cannot protect judges, witnesses and lawyers, at least not civilian judges. Military courts are the not-so-soft coup. No political force has had the courage to question the frenzied decision to carry out executions and point out the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997 under which the overwhelming number of the death sentences has been handed out is deeply flawed, often targeting the marginalised in case not “terrorism” as anybody understands it. Fair Trial, due process and other fundamental guarantees cannot be suspended because we are grieving. The fact that we are angry does not make it right; as a matter of fact that is (or at least was) the defining distinction between us and the murderers. Make no mistake, there will be military courts in Balochistan and Sindh, perhaps even in Okara. All of this has little to do with the murders of our children in Peshawar and everything to do with the cruel power politics, with the entire toothless civilian leadership admitting unconditional and complete defeat. This does not bode well for the memory of Shaheed BB, the children of Peshawar and for all of us. This will be a very cold winter.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 28th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (17)

  • raider
    Dec 28, 2014 - 1:25AM

    death no doubt brings about colossal loss and confound grief but truth is too bitter to absorb, the conversation finding first very sentence when ever the notables of politics and like wise talk about judiciary was we have now autonomous and impartial judiciary have died to death after announcement of military courts enforcement and indirectly confessed that civilian judiciary is too week to sentence criminals with mood of belligerency and are just for reference and to punish the poor which could not hire prestigious lawyers, and also endorse the fact that army is only capable institution of this very state.while describing BB DOCTRINE writer failed to mention NRO with the same military by lady and even the garland in Swiss also giving and reminding to the people the old unpleasant stories, the civil political arena have failed to come up with any solid narrative and strategy and handed over all to military where court bearer are inexpert at law but expected to perform better for nation due to speedy justice


  • MA
    Dec 28, 2014 - 1:52AM

    If you don’t want military courts, you must strengthen the civilian courts. What has PPP done regarding that? Molana Aziz of lal masjid was let go scott free and back to preaching his extremism during PPP tenure. He had about 40 cases against him! He was the reason hundreds of people died in lal masjid including soldiers. He was the reason the masjid was full of all types of weapons and terrorists. It may still very well be or they would not be producing videos supporting IS. Peshawar would not have happened if lal masjid was cleansed of Aziz and all other terrorists.Recommend

  • Feroz
    Dec 28, 2014 - 2:38AM

    The surrender of authority by the Civilian Government will come back to haunt Pakistan. Anyone who opposes the ideology of Pakistan will be fair game and targeted by these Military Courts. Those who have motivated terrorism, trained thousands and sent them to their death are roaming around freely giving hate speeches and holding rallies with State patronage. They will remain in business to perpetuate hate and continue to recruit —- of course in National Interest.
    I hope the Judiciary is not sleeping and at first instance will strike down this sort of illegal arrangement to usurp its powers and derail justice, in the guise of Military Courts. If it does not do so Pakistan is doomed in the name of summary justice. It is shocking that the mind is so foggy that the obvious is not visible, wonder whether people prefer to shove it under the carpet. This aerial bombardment of so called terrorists in FATA too is a crime that cannot differentiate between who is killed —– guilty or innocent.


  • Shahbaz Asif Tahir
    Dec 28, 2014 - 2:41AM

    Fear Allah. Remember you speak
    non sense.Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Dec 28, 2014 - 2:45AM

    The idea of military courts would fail miserably. I have many reason to say this but two, I think are most important. Army managed to get approval of these courts with pressure and fear. It was not approved by politicians with national spirit. Secondly, other organs of the government are also not ready. If they had been ready to fight and give their lives in this war, we would not be needing Military courts. Every judge, every police officer, every law maker, every lawyer and every witness would have considered it their national duty above and beyond their own lives. No need of Military courts would have arisen.


  • sabi
    Dec 28, 2014 - 5:24AM

    You said it as it is.nothing radical is going to change as the whole approach is flawed.Emergency is knocking our doors.lo and behold.


  • Jibran
    Dec 28, 2014 - 9:18AM

    Imran Khan’s callous and idiotic statement saying that “she only had herself to blame” [for her brutal murder].

    The same justification that TTP uses for its actions, and the one used by Mullah Aziz’s hoodlums for threatening Jibran over the phone. This clearly indicates who’s side Imran is on. His drone mantra also coincided very well with the narrative of TTP.


  • ali haziq
    Dec 28, 2014 - 9:34AM

    Please, spare us from your ‘BB’ and her remains. Thanks.


  • Ishtiaq
    Dec 28, 2014 - 12:51PM

    There is wisdom in what the writer says. It is certainly a surrender of the State to deviate from the course of law. A state must uphold the law under all circumstances. I find solace in the fact that, as promised, the military courts will only operate in FATA and final appeal court will remain the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Perhaps we can bite the bullet for this interregnum of two years and bring changes in law to enable Anti-Terror or Speedy Trial Courts to function as these should function in times like these.

    Ultimately, it is the will of the people and the state which will determine the outcome. Seeing how the State has cowed down in face of the blatant challenge by cleric Abdul Aziz, there is not much to cheer about.


  • faraz
    Dec 28, 2014 - 2:19PM

    Imran said this after Karsaz blast, not after Bhutto’s assassination


  • Ak
    Dec 28, 2014 - 6:04PM

    Comparing BB assassination and the Peshawar Massacre is Sheer stupidity those kids did not know they were under threat they did not have comprehensive security protocols and they did not have bullet proof cars they stuck their heads out of


  • pro bono publico
    Dec 28, 2014 - 6:48PM

    You mean that BB who bargained with Gen. Musharraf with help of Georg W Bush to get scot free of crimes through the NRO.


  • Muhammad
    Dec 28, 2014 - 9:06PM

    Please stop this eulogising about BB, people have short memories. Remember the Rockingham mansion.


  • Parvez
    Dec 28, 2014 - 11:47PM

    Our judicial system has miserably failed…….it provides zero justice to the people and at best selective justice to a few…..but it services itself and that too at the peoples expense.
    Let military courts and any other system capable of delivering swift justice for the people be implemented………its high time the people deserve governance of some sort.


  • Solomon2
    Dec 29, 2014 - 9:36AM

    I’ve long pointed out how Pakistan’s existing court system is inadequate and another, competing court system is needed. But a military court without civilian accountability is not the way to go. It’s like the 1950s when the civilian pols pushed everything on the military instead of doing their jobs – because they were too proud and unwilling to compromise and weren’t accountable enough to the people to be tossed out for non-performance. That’s one of the things that really has to change, I suppose.

    The entire process of pushing legislative or judicial matters on the military should be unconstitutional. We sometimes have this problem in the U.S., too, when legislators try to push responsibilities that are theirs upon the Executive Branch. The Courts strike it down and Congress has to get back to doing its proper job and accepting that what Congress does might be reversed if the ruling party loses its majority in the next election.


  • Old Ravian
    Dec 29, 2014 - 4:12PM

    May God rest her soul in peace. BB’s last gift to the nation was signing NRO with a military dictator. We are such a wretched nation that we have to celebrate flawed leaders like BB.


  • salman
    Dec 30, 2014 - 5:08PM

    Let BB be. Unfortunately, her legacy is tainted by NRO, Mr.10% etc. Looks like you view her through the same rose-tinted glasses as fans of PMLN and PTI view Nawaz and Imran.


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