Sunday, April 19, 2015

The stay of executions in Pakistan's new military courts

From Dawn's editorial about the Supreme Court of Pakistan's order last week staying all 21st Amendment military court death sentences:
To critics of the Supreme Court’s temporary decision and proponents of the new, post-December regime of military courts, there is also a straightforward response. Yes, there is a desperate need to draw up a coherent and cohesive policy to fight militancy here, but military courts can be no part of such a strategy, in principle or in practice. Consider what is now known about the six men who were, before the Supreme Court’s intervention, sentenced to be executed in the name of the power that the people have invested in the state. 
They were effectively sentenced to death (the appeals process under the new legislation will surely be even more abbreviated and limited than the trial itself) because the military has accused them of being terrorists. If the military is convinced of the militancy connections of these six men, and knows the specific crimes they have committed, why is it so difficult for the same evidence to be produced in a reasonable manner before reasonable individuals? The notion that the judiciary is an incurable ally of militancy is preposterous. By the same token that the military has convinced itself of the guilt of certain individuals, why can it not convince others of the same? The Supreme Court has done the right thing.
The general stay of executions is temporary, and speaking of temporary, does anyone really believe the 21st Amendment military courts will in fact sunset in two years, as the recent Pakistani legislation currently provides? 

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