Military Courts Offer Little Hope

Debate over the decision to set up new military courts highlights the failures of both the government and the military in tackling terrorism. Recent orders to release hardened terrorists like Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s Malik Ishaq and Lashkar-e-Taiba’s Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi are only the latest examples of civilian judiciary’s long record of failing to convict even the most brazen terrorists.

It is with this view that many are supporting the establishment of military courts that should be able to not only protect the judges and lawyers involved, but also use critical evidence without exposing sensitive intelligence methods and sources. But military courts have their own problems.

The drawback being discussed most often is the harm that will be done to credibility of the civilian judiciary if the military takes over this function of government. However, the civilian judiciary has already destroyed most of its own credibility as noted above. The bigger question should be whether a military court will be any more likely to tackle the complex problem of jihadi extremism or whether it will be another weapon against the Army’s existing enemies.

There is no doubt that military courts will be busy and that convictions will be swiftly delivered, but other doubts remain. Will military trials include groups friendly to Army like Jamaat-ud-Dawa? Or will the courts be another weapon against those considered enemies like BLA? Will military courts be used to silence those who project pro-Taliban ideology like Abdul Aziz? Or will they be used to silence those who ask embarrassing questions like Saleem Shahzad? Will military courts expose the jihadi networks, or will they perpetuate the narrative that every terrorist is part of RAW-CIA-Mossad conspiracies?

There is little doubt that civilian courts are not up to the task of trying and convicting hardened terrorists. Unfortunately, there is little reason to believe that military courts will be much better.

Update: This post originally included a photograph that claimed to show a judge kissing convicted terrorist Mumtaz Qadri. The authenticity of this photograph has been disputed and the image has been removed.

Impeach Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui

Justice Shaukat Aziz Mumtaz Qadri

Hazrat Ali (RA) famously stated that even a state based on kufr can survive, but a state based in injustice is doomed to fail. Recently we are seeing worrying signs that Paksitan is becoming a state of injustice. The most troubling of these, however, occurred only recently as Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui was appointed to Islamabad High Court.

Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui is an extremist ideologue who is out of touch with the Pakistani mainstream. In 2002 elections, he was awarded a ticket by extremist political party created by the ISI Muttahida Majlis–e–Amal whose leaders include Taliban supporters Samiul Haq and Munawar Hassan. Even then he was loudly rejected by the people receiving only 12,000 votes in NA-54.

In 2011, Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui openly celebrated the self-confessed murderer Mumtaz Qadri and was photographed kissing the killer in the streets. Let us not forget that Mumtaz Qadri confessed to the cold blooded murder of Salmaan Taseer, was convicted by the court, and sentenced to death as a cold blooded killer. Now the people are expected to walk into the Islamabad High Court and still believe that it is a place where the rule of law is respected?

There is a solution to this crisis. Article 209 of the Constitution allows Judges of a High Court to be removed if he is ‘incapable of performing the duties of his office or has been guilty of misconduct’. Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui’s misconduct is his public support for a self-confessed murderer, an act which makes him incapable of performing the duties of his office which includes in its oath the sworn duty to ‘in all circumstances…do right to all manner of people, according to law, without fear or favor, affection or ill-will’.

Through his public actions, Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui has proven himself incapable of performing the duties of a High Court Judge and should be removed from office immediately. Only then can we have faith that the Courts are actually Halls of Justice.