Pak needs to come up with ef­fec­tive ter­ror leg­is­la­tion

The Pak Banker - - Front Page -

IS­LAM­ABAD

There is a need to come up with an ef­fec­tive leg­is­la­tion to tackle ter­ror­ism in the coun­try, as the world has changed af­ter 9/11. This was the dom­i­nant view on a pub­lic forum on "Anti-ter­ror­ism laws in Pak­istan: the quest to bal­ance civil lib­er­ties and ad­dress­ing ter­ror­ism".

The Forum was chaired by Shahid Hamid, for­mer gover­nor of Pun­jab, while Lord Alex Carlile, the for­mer In­de­pen­dent Re­viewer of UK Counter-Ter­ror­ism Leg­is­la­tion, was the key speaker in the Forum.

Lord Carlile shared his ex­pe­ri­ence of strength­en­ing leg­is­la­tion to tackle counter-ter­ror­ism. He un­der­lined that there has to be a nar­ra­tive that deals with the counter ter­ror­ism strat­egy. Lord Carlile said that the UK's def­i­ni­tion of ter­ror­ism is nar­rower. He agreed that it is to be rec- og­nized that Pak­istan is the front­line state against ter­ror­ism. An ef­fec­tive way out of tack­ling ter­ror­ism would be "shared so­lu­tions to­ward shared prob­lems." Lord Carlile said that it is an art of main­tain­ing an ef­fec­tive bal­ance be­tween civil lib­er­ties and counter-ter­ror­ism.

Prob­ing as to why Pak­istan has a low con­vic­tion rate and the UK, a high rate, Lord Carlile said that the ju­di­ciary is the key to this ef­fect. He said that not only do they have to be safe and se­cure, but they also need to be prop­erly paid.

More­over, the judges need to have cer­tain ex­per­tise, dis­agree­ing with the no­tion that all judges can deal with anti-ter­ror­ism cases. In the UK, he said, there is a ju­di­cial ap­point­ment com­mis­sion which en­forces that all judges, start­ing off at the dis­trict level, have to pass a writ­ten ex­am­i­na­tion and un­dergo an in­ter­view.

The com­pe­tence of a judge in­cludes ab­sorb­ing diver­sity and com­fort in deal­ing with oth­ers, lead­ing to a con­sid­er­able im­prove­ment in qual­ity of judges.

Lord Carlile clar­i­fied that there "ab­so­lutely no use of the best judge if the case if badly pre­pared." To this end, he shared the process through which the ev­i­dence makes the way from crime scene to foren­sic lab­o­ra­tory to present in the court.

Shahid Hamid, while ex­plain­ing the leg­is­la­tion in Pak­istan re­gard­ing Anti-Ter­ror­ism said that so far, there are two leg­isla­tive in­stru­ments that deal with ter­ror­ism.

The first such bill is the An­tiTer­ror­ism Act which was orig­i­nally drafted in 1997; the law has since then been amended in 2001 and 2004. The Anti-Ter­ror­ism (Amend­ment) Bill 2010 was in­tro- duced in the Se­nate of Pak­istan by the Fed­eral In­te­rior Min­is­ter on July 27, 2010. The sec­ond bill which curbs fi­nan­cial as­pect of ter­ror­ism is the Anti-Money Laun­der­ing Act, 2010. The Act, he said, it­self came in the back­drop of Pak­istan's com­mit­ment to the United Na­tion's 1998 Res­o­lu­tion which asked for the states to come up with mea­sures to con­trol money laun­der­ing. The law re­quires re­port­ing any sus­pi­cious trans­ac­tion be­yond Rs. 25 lakh.

Shahid Hamid also com­pared that na­ture of ter­ror­ism have be­come fur­ther de­struc­tive since the law was first in­tro­duced. He said that un­like in the 1990s, a ter­ror­ist or his or­ga­ni­za­tion was iden­ti­fi­able, to­day, ter­ror­ists groups ap­pear on the hori­zon af­ter a "sui­cide bomb" oc­curs.

More­over, whereas in the past, the ter­ror­ist groups had some pop­u­lar sup­port on which they had to rely, to­day, these groups don't even eye for pop­u­lar sup­port.

He also said that the present-day ter­ror­ists det­o­nate ex­plo­sives in­stead of are en­gaged in firearms, as mostly hap­pened in the past. These groups, he said, es­pouse an "ide­o­log­i­cal" agenda with some hav­ing "ter­ri­to­rial am­bi­tions."

De­spite these laws, he lamented, the con­vic­tion rate in the coun­try is low. He said ac­cord­ing to a re­port, there were less than 700 cases of money laun­der­ing were re­ported, out of which only four (4) were pros­e­cuted and none con­victed. Mr. Shahid Hamid that dur­ing the same time frame, none has be­ing con­victed in In­dia and only one has been con­victed in Bangladesh.

He fur­ther said that the def­i­ni­tion of ter­ror­ism is so wide that if some­body throws a brick­bat at the po­lice, he or she can put on trial for con­duct­ing ter­ror­ism.

Mr. Hamid rec­om­mended that the num­ber of days for de­ten­tion need to be looked into, and those in­sti­tu­tions that train sui­cide bombers need to be in­ves­ti­gated. Like­wise, the law needs to deal with the vi­o­lence caused by ex­plo­sives, which were not much an is­sue in 1997. Mr. Shahid Hamid shared the In­ves­ti­ga­tion into Fair Trial Bill makes dig­i­tal in­for­ma­tion as ad­mis­si­ble ev­i­dence even prior to the lodg­ing of the FIR. He rec­om­mended that it would be bet­ter to re­move the clause re­strict­ing phone-tap­ping of par­lia­men­tar­i­ans.

Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans, academia, civil so­ci­ety and me­dia par­tic­i­pated in large num­bers in the Forum. Ms. Asiya Nasir, MNA ( NA 322, Balochis­tan, JUI-F) said that it is dif­fi­cult for her to un­der­stand the ap­pli­ca­tion of the term "ter­ror­ism" on bombs from a sui­cide bomber or from above. She said we do not want to fa­cil­i­tate any leg­is­la­tion which in­trudes upon the civil lib­er­ties of the cit­i­zens. Ms. Tas­neem Sid­duqi, MNA, (NA-285, Pun­jab, PML-N) said that the liv­ing stan­dards of the peo­ple need to be im­proved if ter­ror­ism is to be fought ef­fec­tively.

Ear­lier, Ahmed Bi­lal Me­hboob, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of PILDAT, said that are no two opin­ions that Pak­istan is faced with a gi­gan­tic chal­lenge of con­tin­ued and in­creased acts of ter­ror­ism in al­most all parts of the coun­try.

He said that whereas the cur­rent 13th Na­tional Assem­bly and the Se­nate have a healthy record of leg­is­la­tion at least in a rel­a­tive sense, the two ar­eas where the par­lia­ment has not been able to suc­cess­fully leg­is­late are Ac­count­abil­ity and Counter-ter­ror­ism.

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