The Death Penalty Delusion

public hanging

Nawaz Sharif has lifted the ban on death penalty, and Gen Raheel has signed the death warrants for six convicted terrorists. The reaction has been fairly predictable, with right-wing hypernationalists beating their drum to hang someone, anyone, in the streets and left-wing human rights activists worrying about whether death penalty makes us no better than the killers we are killing. I have a different opinion than either of these. I’m not going to lose any sleep over whether a terrorist loses his life. Hang him if it makes you feel better. Hang him from a lamp post if something about that makes you feel more like a man. But don’t expect me to be there cheering it on, either, because it won’t matter. It won’t make one bit of difference.

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Devil’s Advocates

broken scales of justiceI lost count of how many times someone emailed me a link to a news report about Sharifuddin Pirzada, the lawyer who is leading Gen Musharraf’s defence team. The report was originally written by AFP, a French media group, but  it has spread like fire since, appearing in countless newspapers both in Pakistan and internationally. The explanation that Pirzada is ‘just doing his job’ is perfectly valid – that is not my issue. My issue is why this explanation is only given for lawyers who defend dictators?

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Musharraf Trial: A Case of Selective Justice

Iftikhar Chaudhry and Gen Musharraf

Missing his second court date in two days, former dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf has termed the accusations against him as ‘politically motivated‘. In a certain way, they are – and should be – politically motivated: A demonstration that politically ambitious officers cannot undermine democratic rule, abrogate the constitution, and usurp power. Gen Musharraf is accused of doing each of these, and with the preponderance of evidence behind these accusations, a trial is certainly warranted. In another way, Musharraf’s insinuation is correct – Of everyone who was involved in these crimes, why is he being singled out for trial? The question we should be asking is not whether or not it is fair to try Musharraf. There can be no doubt that the answer to that question is yes. The question we should be asking is why there aren’t more people being tried with him.

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Red Lines and Declarations of War

PTI spokesperson Shireen Mazari leads anti-American demonstration

PTI spokesperson Shireen Mazari leads anti-American demonstration

The latest drone attack is noteworthy for a few reasons. First, it took place in Khyber Pakhtunkwa. As far as I remember, every other drone strike till date has taken place in FATA where it was always explained that there was no other way to reach terrorists due to the difficult landscape. The geographical expansion of drone strikes, even if it is an anomaly, is important though. We know that the CIA informs the ISI every month of the areas they intend to strike, so the question must be asked whether the military knew that the American ‘flight boxes’ had been expanded and chose to do nothing to stop it, or whether the military was once again caught sleeping as it was when American helicopters flew into Abbottabad?

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