Today’s Dawn editorial about the Supreme Court’s rejection of the government’s appeal against the release of Hafiz Saeed made me really question what the court’s priorities are. I try not to be cynical, but what am I to think when it seems that the court is not more interested spending all of its time and energy on Facebook and old political corruption cases from 15 or 20 years ago at the expense of terrorists who are threatening the very future of the country?
Dawn is correct that this is not an issue only of Hafiz Saeed, but a broad problem with courts having the will to convict these madmen.
There is a perception that the establishment has no desire to take on Hafiz Saeed, who was formerly detained under the Maintenance of Public Order ordinance, and the Lashkar at a time when it is fighting militancy in areas bordering Afghanistan. Despite the consistent pressure from India that considers Mr Saeed the architect of the Mumbai attacks in 2008, the government’s failure to produce concrete evidence against him led to the Supreme Court’s upholding the Lahore High Court’s instructions to release him from detention.
However, Mr Saeed’s reprieve needs to be seen in a broader perspective. There have been countless cases where those suspected of being involved in terror attacks, be they against government installations or of a sectarian nature, have been let off. A recent example is the acquittal by the Lahore High Court of two men, allegedly belonging to the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, who were charged with attempting to assassinate former President Musharraf in 2003. In fact, the overall low conviction rate in Pakistan points to severe deficiencies in the investigation and prosecution process.
What evidence do the judges have to declare a person guilty, when even witnesses decide not to testify out of fear for their lives? This must change if crime is to be tackled effectively. In the case of nabbing terrorists, the legal process needs to be even more foolproof. Without a proper legal framework for dealing with terrorists, more often than not the latter will walk free. Unfortunately, the absence of a strong legal system has led to extrajudicial killings by the law-enforcement forces, which flouts all norms and laws of human rights.
What adds insult to injury, though, is what the court does seem to be focused on. Even Nawaz Sharif has said that most of these old cases registered against Zardari and PPP were politically motivated. Since the Supreme Court nullified the NRO, they will need to be either advanced or dismissed. But is this truly the court’s greatest priority? Is the Swiss Case really the most pressing issue before the court?
Here I am baffled. We are facing an existential crisis that is no joke. There are people like Hafiz Saeed and others who are killing our families. They are trying to destroy our country.
LHC is hearing cases about Facebook. Supreme Court is still talking about Swiss Case. Outside, the nation is burning. Will the justices wake up in time to do something about it?