Sunday, January 15, 2017

A New York Times op-ed about Pakistan's military courts

Mohammed Hanif
Tomorrow's New York Times will include this thoughtful op-ed by British-Pakistani novelist Mohammed Hanif. Excerpts:
The military courts’ special jurisdiction expired on Jan. 7, and the government is holding consultations with opposition parties about reviving it. Some parties are wary, but no one really wants to be seen challenging the army.
Pakistan’s insistence on trying and convicting its terrorists in secret is baffling. The war against the Taliban and other religious extremists is supposedly a war of ideas. But how are we to fight an idea when we don’t know what it is?
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These trials provide not justice so much as revenge, and they uncover very little information. The Taliban were fond of killing our soldiers and making videos while doing it. We let our army take away suspected terrorists to try them and hang them, but we want to be spared the gory details. 
And yet the gory details are what we need to know if we want to know our enemy. The reasons Aziz gave in his interview for killing Sabeen — she spoke out against the Taliban, she promoted secular values — echo views and values common among corporate workers, lawyers, journalists and other armchair jihadists. That’s why holding court hearings in the open matters: Because then they might reveal how a theological argument can lead to a massacre, how prejudice can lead to sectarian violence.

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