Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Pakistan’s multiple legal systems

I have taken the title from Rabia Ahmed's editorial piece in PT (Pakistan Today). It seems apropos in light of the issues coming out of Pakistan related to military courts:
Pakistan, that polygamist among the community of nations, has four legal systems in tow: civil, military, traditional tribal (jirga) and religious (Sharia). Which system has the casting vote? Isn’t the civilian legal system sufficient, and if not, why? Has it broken down? Is it possible to maintain all four legal systems without one stepping on the other’s toes?
As the country ushered in the New Year, nine terrorists were tried and sentenced to death by military courts, their death warrants signed by the COAS. At least three of these persons, civilians, are charged with crimes against civilians. Under normal circumstances these three would have been tried by civil courts. Military courts would be reserved for cases that involve the military. So if, for example, an army officer shoots his superior during the course of duty, he is tried by a military court. But if the same army officer shoots the same superior because the superior is the father of his daughter’s fiancé who broke off their engagement, he comes under the ambit of civil law.

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