By Nuzhat Nazar –
The establishment of military courts is not the decision of choice rather compulsion
The menace of terrorism in Pakistan has grown manifold since last few years and has cost billions of rupees loss to the economy and took thousands of innocent lives. But it is very tragic fact that a large number of suspects allegedly behind these terror attacks remained at large which adds more heartache to the victim families.
Since 2007, the number of terrorist related activities within the country increased manifold. The terrorists attacked the political leadership, the General Headquarters, intelligence agencies, senior military officers, mosques, public places and even the innocent school children were mercilessly assassinated by heartless terrorists.
It is also an irony of fate that since 2007 till now over 2000 terrorism suspects have been acquitted by the courts as our existing criminal justice system failed to get them convicted for one reason or another. More serious still is the fact that a sizeable number of the acquitted suspects have reportedly rejoined terrorist outfits.
The crimes data obtained from the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) revealed that since 2007 the Pakistan faced 12800 terrorist attacks. In 2007, 1820 incident of terrorism were reported, in 2008 the number was 1575, in 2009 these were 1934, in 2010 the figure was 2061, in 2011 it was 1680, in 2012 terrorism incidents were 1316, in 2013 terrorism reported cases were 1571 and in 2014 these were 843.
During this period the numbers of suicide attacks were 381 reported across the country. It included 55 in 2007, 63 in 2008, 91 in 2009, 51 in 2010, 40 in 2011, 18 in 2012, 42 in 2013, and 21 in 2014.
A recent report of the Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) revealed that in 2014, Pakistan has witnessed 1,206 terror attacks particularly causing 1,723 casualties. Whereby, a total of 7,655 people died in 2014 as a result of different types of direct violence. The latest terror attack at APS Peshawar was the worst of its own kinds, left the country in a state of grievance and turmoil.
The alarming and deteriorating law and order situation in the country jolted the nation and necessitated upon adapting all possible measures to bring culprits to justice. Lifting of moratorium on execution of victims was the very first step taken by the government. Since then out of about 8000 few dozen, most of them convicted by the military courts and anti terrorism courts, have been executed.
A senior government official says, “The implementation of law of the land has become cheap commodity; to be used at the whim of influential. Who to be hanged and who to be spared has become a conventional game. A death penalty pending execution is acquitted after twelve years on the plea that death punishment awarded by the court is illegal. Can anyone assure which decision is legal and judicious; awarding punishment or declaring awarded punishment illegal”.
Yet another example of acquittal of four death row convicts who were involved in terrorism killing 11 and injuring 19 people in 2002, whereby death punishment was awarded in 2004. After 10 years, “justice” awakened and convicts released under the same judicial system.
Wife of Javed Iqbal who lost her husband in suicide bomb attack on army run bakery in Nowshera in 2011 says, “the government took no special measures at that time but now has finally go for military operation, lifting moratorium on execution of victims and establishment of military courts”.
For her military courts are not the ultimate solutions but the need of hour. “Had judicial system been impartial and vigorous with indiscriminate punishments, many terror attacks would have been clogged. The abdication of responsibilities by political government could not fix illegitimate justice system; more so bench and bar,” she said.
Qaiser Ali, father of Hamza Ali a victim of Peshawar Army Public School blasted saying, “Our judicial system unfortunately remained subverted; unable to deliver justice in spite of sufficient evidences. The absence of due retribution to terrorists provided space to organize and encouraged culprits for terrorism.” Further he said, “The government or parliament could not evolve workable mechanism to meet urgent needs for justice. Peshawar incidence of 16 December was the culmination of government machinery failure.”
In present scenario government could not do much better than formation of military courts for speedy justice deliverance to curb terrorism.
Unfortunately religio-political parties and self-centered politicians have always placed their vested interests before national interests. They tend baffling counterterrorism measures; unable to strike balance between need of the hour and their personal benefits. This state is much infuriating for other elites, in spite of reservations against military courts from certain quarters who also remained oblivious and reluctant to support army for fighting terrorism. The government has invested its political might to fight and defeat terrorists on all fronts including execution of culprits through fair trials fulfilling all legal obligations.
Pakistan has remained victim of perpetual political disorder, which has weakened political decision making in the country. Peace and stability cannot be achieved in a political vacuum, success cannot be attained overnight and terrorism cannot be wiped-out in isolation, the security experts believe.