Friday, September 4, 2015

Hurry, sundown

From this editorial in the Daily Times:
The winning argument in favour of military courts, and one repeated by the civilian leadership often, is that the 21st amendment is only a temporary arrangement to deal with terrorists while the judicial system with all its cracks and inadequacies is reformed. Hence the inclusion of the ‘sunset clause’ of two years in the amendment, which would see the military courts lapse come 2017, but, and this is a big but, only if the regular judicial system has been fixed in the meantime. To date we have not witnessed any sincere efforts on the part of the sitting government to undertake the promised judicial reforms that will make the perceived need for military courts redundant. If such inaction keeps up, 2017 will come and go and the military courts and the flagrant continuation of dubious justice will continue. The embracing of this arbitrary arrangement by both the public and the political class has put Pakistan on a slippery slope from which it will be difficult to recover.
The 21st Amendment's sunset clause is not contingent on reform of Pakistan's civilian courts. It reads:
The provisions of this Amendment Act shall remain in force for a period of two years from the date of its commencement and shall cease to form part of the Constitution and shall stand repealed on the expiration of the said period.
A petition has been filed in Peshawar High Court challenging the conviction of a man on charges growing out of the December 16, 2014 Army Public School massacre. He received a sentence of death. The man's mother claims he had an alibi. 

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