Sunday, April 2, 2017

Military courts and deterrence

Asma Jehangir
On March 31, 2017, the President of Pakistan signed the measure reviving military courts, a measure intended to crush and deter terrorism. Within hours, there was a car bomb attack near a Shiite mosque, killing at least 24 people and wounding many more. Might it be that recourse to military courts is not a deterrent?

An insightful Pakistan Today op-ed can be found here. Excerpts:
Buhut buhut Mubarik hoo faujiyoon koo,” (Many congratulations to army men) Asma Jehangir, well-known advocate Supreme Court and human rights activist, said to this newspaper about the two-year extension granted to military courts after presidential assent. 
“Now they had better improve their ability of reasoning and logic as the doors have opened for us proper lawyers to enter their courtrooms,” added one of the most vocal critics of military courts in Pakistan.
* * * 
“Some believe terrorism is the biggest problem of Pakistan but Mr Imran Khan of PTI differs. Mr Khan says corruption is the biggest problem of the country. Should you empower military courts to adjudicate corrupt politicians as well?” asked Jehangir. 
Miss Jehangir also believes that the federal and provincial legislatures have chalked out their recommendation and sent it to the law ministry to bring in much-needed changes. 
“You can’t bring such huge changes piecemeal. You have to amend Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), law of evidence and other substantial and procedural laws. Our legal system is only as good and as bad as India’s or Bangladesh’s. 
There are flaws, I admit, there is huge room for improvement but does that mean that we bring in military courts that are even worse?” she added. 
* * * 
“Spend 1pc of what you spend on military on the judiciary, on judges, on prosecutors. 
Give them protection, give them safety, increase their number and only then you can blame them if they don’t deliver,” argued Asma Jehangir. 
“There is no doubt that huge improvements are needed in our system. But does that mean that we put in place a worse system?”

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