September 04, 2011

Pak justice system :US casts doubts over credibility

THE US State Department’s assessment about Pakistan’s justice system has not revealed anything unusual when it says that it is almost incapable of bringing to justice those accused of involvement in terrorism-related cases. The judiciary in Pakistan has always had an image of being pliable towards those in power. The US should, therefore, not feel disgusted when the State Department’s annual report points out that the anti-terrorism courts in Pakistan have an acquittal rate as high as 75 per cent. And this means that the culprits behind the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack in which nearly 200 people, including six Americans, were killed can never be punished. Anyone who thought otherwise showed little understanding of the way the legal system functioned in that country. Hafiz Mohammed Sayeed, the founder-chief of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), the terrorist outfit believed to have masterminded the 26/11 killings, walks free like anyone else as if his organisation has done nothing wrong. He appears the least bothered about how the world looks at his activities.

India provided sufficient dossiers to nail the 26/11 culprits, but in vain. Pakistan’s response has, however, never given the impression that it is doing all it can to ensure the punishment of the LeT terrorists. But this is what should be expected of the courts in Pakistan. They have the dubious distinction of setting free almost everybody arrested in terror-related cases in Pakistan, where hundreds of people have died in such incidents during the past few years.

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik recently admitted that 606 persons had been arrested for their alleged involvement in terrorist violence after the 26/11 Mumbai attack, but over 50 per cent of them had been set free and the rest might also be out of jail anytime now. Even a known terrorist belonging to the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Malik Ishaque, was recently acquitted by a court in 34 of the 44 cases filed against him. He was no different from his mentor Riaz Basra, a dreaded Lashkar-e-Jhangvi terrorist, but was happily granted bail in 10 cases. This is how the judiciary functions in Pakistan despite the presence of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, who fought valiantly against the Gen Pervez Musharraf regime.

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