Is Judiciary Equipped Enough to Deal Insurgency?

This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive 

Jawad Raza Khan   

Jind-ullah men responsible for Ashura attack in Karachi escaped through a dreadful attack on police, right in the courts premises. CIT building in Karachi has been bombed by a suicide attacker, high value targets feared to be escaped. Two brothers gunned down in Feroze wala courts, incidentally in police custody. Security agencies are frustrated due to no or delayed actions against the apprehended terrorists.

These types of headlines are easily digestible in a Bollywood action packed, high voltage BHAI LOG movie but a country who is fighting the most sophisticated form of warfare in the history of mankind is putting its survival on stake by neglecting it.Readers, this is real and very recurrent in Pakistan.

Warfare is now an interlocking system of actions, political, economic, psychological, and military-that aims at the overthrow of the established authority in a country. I got this definition of modern warfare (terrorism) from a book written by Roger Trinquier, a French writer “Modern Warfare a French view”. Thanks to the writer that he has written it as French view because we are always excited to apply foreign researches on our own people and land without its necessary analysis and expected impacts on our own society.

When Westerners discuss counter insurgency operation in a third world country like Pakistan they always make religious intolerance and economy as an imperative to be looked in. They also claim to be believer of the fact that for a successful counter insurgency operation after flexing the military muscle, education and economic activity needs to be flooded in. We all believe in it and make our priorities and plans as per the same precedence; incidentally we apply it without scrutinizing our own strong and weak points with our culture and religion in the backdrop.

Swat insurgency finds its roots in incompetent judicial system which was not like that before 1969; people of Swat use to enjoy an efficient and speedy justice system. The slogan was very timely, smartly and comprehensively used by the TTP Swat, at first, the Taliban gained public support with promises of speedy justice. But public beheadings and floggings outraged many in Swat, a former tourist paradise beneath lush mountains.

Pakistan Army operated in a highly professional manner to out root the terrorists, and the world saw another exodus in the form IDPs from Swat valley. Military muscle did the trick, many were killed, rest apprehended and the planet witnessed one of the speediest returns of IDPs after a successful counterinsurgency operation which has no such precedence in the history of Warfare.

In the basic concept of military doctrine decision factors are mission, enemy, terrain and resources but this modern and unique warfare cannot rule out one most important factor and i.e. the inhabitants. In case of Pakistan the state of affairs of its citizens can be easily drawn from the state of fatalities received by the local people during terrorist activities. It must also be borne in mind that these brave residents are also playing a role of combatants in this type of warfare, rather to be fair and square they have suffered more than the combatant soldier.

Fatalities in Terrorist Violence in Pakistan: 2003- 2011

Year Civilians Security Forces (SFs)
2003 140 24
2004 435 184
2005 430 81
2006 608 325
2007 1523 597
2008 2155 654
2009 2307 1011
2010 1796 469
2011* 226 98
Total 9620 3443

Security agencies along with their intelligence tentacles have been able to arrest many of the terrorists and claimed to have broken numerous networks as well. If, I just total up the number of terrorists apprehended in Swat, FATA and in other parts of the country as shown on media, their number without exaggeration will be in thousands. On the other hand, to deal these thousands of prisoners of war there are only 41 ATCs (Anti Terrorist Courts) all over Pakistan with mere 11 in the most affected province of KPK.

The quantity analysis of the justice machinery will seems to be more promising if we analyze the efficiency of courts qualitatively. It can be summarized in just one sentence “Not a single capital punishment has been awarded and executed to any terrorist in Pakistan. On the other hand Pakistan have seen the most brutal part of this insurgency with deplorable economy, social problems, psychological trauma, power shut downs and loss of precious human lives.

With above in foregoing, you may not be astonished to hear that, there are round about 2000 pending cases in ATCs of Pakistan against the apprehended terrorists.

If you start digging out the reasons for this unjustifiable in justice, that to, in a war hit country, it triggers the blame throwing game. The Chelan was not properly filed; no sufficient evidence has been provided by the prosecutor. There is no witness of the crime scene. In turn most of the apprehenders are set free. Ready to operate with more conviction and determination against the innocent Pakistani people.

It seems that our nation and security forces has learnt the art of living with and operating against this menace, respectively, but our decaying judicial system has not been able to cope up with this violent change. The independent judiciary is a real hope for this bereaved nation, but it looks that they are more busy with:

  • Political issues
  • Power shift formulas
  • Constitutional probes
  • And most astonishingly Rights of GEO and Cable Operators

It makes me remind of Winston Churchill during world war II, when his aides used to come and inform him about the number of German sorties ready to bomb London and his question use to be the same every time, Are the people of England getting justice? Indeed sounds strange! But has mammoth logic behind it.

It should also be taken into consideration that England at that time was fighting a conventional war and we are in the midst of a cruel and horrifying insurgency, where inhabitants now demand smart and efficient judicial moves by the Judiciary more than ever.

The role of Parliament expected in this connection is far superior to the performance it has shown over the period of three years. Following is suggested in this regard.

  • The constitutional amendments required for speedy and efficient justice to be finalized
  • Parliament as executive has to provide workable solution to the judiciary so that it can play its extremely vital part, when the nation is at war.

There is yet another constitutional way out from this fiddly situation, if we dealt with these anti state elements captured by security forces as Prisoner of War (PoW). Military courts for execution of these cases can be a better solution for sharing this load with judiciary. Civil courts and military courts working hands and gloves can steer the ship of our nation to safety. This may look unorthodox but is certainly constitutional, provided the three main can sit and sort it out at the highest level.

Difficult decisions are required to be taken when national interest is at stake.

Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it. (Winston Churchill)

(The writer is based in Islamabad & a free lance writer).

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  • Faisal Malik  On March 27, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    decaying judicial system………??? perhaps.

    i see a serious lack of coordination between the civilian and military wings that are trying to fight the terrorism cancer.

    a judge can only view the things presented to him as factual evidences…………..and that is the responsibility of the state.

    if the state, with all agencies at its back, can’t come up with anything concrete, it is useless to blame either the judge or the judiciary for this.

    even with the low number of ATC’s, isn’t it the responsibility of the government with all its resources to increase the number thus ensuring a speedy trial possible??

    if i have to give a number to the government and the judiciary in this fiasco, i’d give 7 our of 10 to the government for not showing its concern over this issue, and a 3 out of 10 to the judiciary.

    the higher the number, the more irresponsible you are.

  • Faisal Malik  On March 27, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    if the judicial SYSTEM is dead, then surely they can amend laws, bring positive reforms to stop the decay. and that too, imho, is the responsibility of the government, more so THAN the judiciary.

    this democracy that we see in pakistan is a sham democracy. and one of THE most non-serious government head and stooges of ministers that i have ever seen in pakistan.

  • MQM Karachi  On March 27, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    what judiciary can do when theirs hands are cuffed with no action on their decisions.

  • Inam Khan  On March 27, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Members of law enforcing agencies are incompetent and coward.That’s why terrorist are not being brought to justice.Judiciary shd play its role more aggressively otherwise this country will become hostage to the terrorists.
    ………………………………….Inam Khan

  • Haroon Wasti  On March 27, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    Broken record ?
    No the record is broken

  • Khan Zia  On March 27, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Thanks. In the same vein, you may like to take a look at this broader perspective:


    The dilemma being faced in Pakistan is not unique by any means. Politicians, by and large, tend to be unscrupulous and corrupt the world over, nowhere more so than in Italy. Politically, it has been one of the most unstable countries in the world, having changed governments almost as many times in the past sixty years. Yet, it continues to prosper. It was the same with France in the years following World War II when governments played musical chairs on yearly basis or less.

    What makes the difference in their case is that the civil administration and judiciary act independently. The day-to-day working of the country remains unaffected and continues to run smoothly and efficiently regardless of who is in power. If there is a crisis, its magnitude and impact is limited and easily contained.

    It was more or less the same in Pakistan until the civil service and judiciary were politicized and rendered subservient to those in power. Standards in the services declined and inefficiency, corruption and nepotism became rampant. In the absence of any organized and effective protest or opposition, institutions became self-serving and things went from bad to worse.

    If there has been a failure in Pakistan, much of the responsibility rests with the people themselves who have not played their part in protecting their rights. Most of the issues lie predominantly within their pale and not that of the politicians alone. Others that do not can also be directly or indirectly influenced by them.

    If only a few years ago the farmers and men in industry had asserted themselves in the same way as the lawyers did to protect the judiciary, we would not be facing the power and food shortage that may become endemic. They were well aware of the decreasing water supplies that began to threaten agriculture and power generation. Yet, they remained passive and allowed the crisis to build.

    Perhaps, the most worrying spectre that threatens our future is the unsustainable rate of population growth. It can only be controlled through awareness, especially among the mostly uneducated women. The task is by no means easy considering the cultural taboos such as we have. There are strict limits to what any government can do under the circumstances. However, the more enlightened women can be very effective in advising and assisting their less fortunate sisters in matters related to family planning.

    There is legitimate concern about corruption in government. If the latter has failed to curb it, should not mean that we have to live with it forever. The people who indulge in it do not come from some alien planet. They are some one’s father, uncle, brother, husband, cousin, friend, neighbour or are related in some other way. It will make a world of difference if we, as individuals, make a point of disapproving, disowning and reporting on such people.

    One reason why our politicians are corrupt and ineffective is because there is little accountability. It is utterly naive to expect these people to police themselves. The voters could form committees to monitor the activities of their representatives — their conduct, attendance in the assembly, how they vote, what they achieve for the constituents, etc.

    The lack of literacy and poor quality of education in schools and colleges is a serious issue. In the ultimate analysis, whatever happens is linked to it in some way. If each literate person were to teach an illiterate one for a year, it is possible to virtually eliminate illiteracy in five or six years. Similarly volunteers could take it upon themselves to help out in schools and colleges in their localities. There are scores of other fields such as medicine, sports, arts, hobbies, etc. where help could be easily provided.

    Andrew Carnegie, a steel magnate, built and stocked 2,600 public libraries in the US. It must be well within the capability of many in Pakistan to donate at least one such facility, if not. We owe it to the country that gave us everything. Nations are made great not by their governments but by people like Andrew Carnegie.

    For a country to prosper economically, it needs investment. It is a sad and regrettable fact that people with disposable capital in Pakistan prefer to invest and create jobs outside the country, making her poorer and politically and socially vulnerable in the process. Investing in countries where one is never fully accepted or respected, while taking away jobs and promoting instability at home, is not something a patriot would do.

    The role played by the media in Pakistan has not always been positive or constructive. Like the politicians and the civil and military bureaucracy, they too have not been free of ineptitude and corruption. Citizens can form media watch committees to ensure that the press does not compromise itself and remains focused on national issues, serving only the national interest.

    We allow maverick interlopers to seize power, without protesting and let them run our lives as it pleases their whims and fancy. When foreign troops and aircraft attack our villages and kill innocent people we take it lying down nor are we outraged when our leaders illegally handover our citizens to foreign powers to be abused and tortured.

    We have abandoned our religion to ignoramuses to misinterpret and exploit with impunity. As a result, a significant segment of our youth has been led astray and driven to different extremes. There is no shortage of talented scholars, artists, sportsmen and individuals with a host of other skills. If there is to be a future, they need to assume responsibility and play their part. Things do not improve on their own. Also, bad things happen only when good people allow these to happen.

    It is not the spirit and capability that are lacking. What is needed is some initiative, organization and planning at the local level. We saw these at work after the earthquake in Kashmir and the Northern Areas when Pakistanis set an example to the world, manifesting Iqbal’s contention: ‘Zara num ho to yeh mitti bahut zarkhez hai saqi.’ We need to recreate the same spirit. Criticism for the sake of criticism, frivolous sermons and gratuitous advice, served out to people who have repeatedly demonstrated their inability to deliver, is an exercise in futility. We need to move on and play our own part in the best way we can.

    The writer is the author of the books Muslims and the West: A Muslim Perspective and Pakistan: Roots, Perspective and Genesis.

    • jawad  On March 27, 2011 at 4:04 pm

      It is indeed heartening to see your valueable comments on my articles. Your all suggestions are certainly workable and if i am not wrong we are moving in the right direction. What we need is consistency and determination! we can and we will do it. (Insahallah)

  • GRK  On March 28, 2011 at 1:25 am

    despite so many hurdels i complement the judiciary for their action.for example i read today that supreame court has asked the joker taj haider to appear for the remarks he uttered and call of strike in which 9 innocent proples died and my family just was saved from a certain death when our car was smashed by ppp goons.i will not even shake hand withis PARHA LIKHA JAHIL if i meet him again in some reception.this and many more jiyalas are the product of the great zulfikhar bhutto.i earnestly beg the supreme court to ban all such jaloos and strikes in the country.grk

  • Abdul Qadir Khan  On March 28, 2011 at 6:10 am

    A point to ponder upon. Probably judiciary should also read this post and think while they can.

  • Agha Gul  On March 28, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Excellent article. God bless you.

    • jawad  On March 29, 2011 at 3:04 am

      Thank you sir, may Allah fill my pen with strength of truth


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