Kanwar M Dilshad
PUBLIC hangings are neither an immediate nor a long-term answer to any crime. a fact that most criminologists worth their salt would confirm. Such a spectacle would only serve to include us among the most brutalised of societies, where the desire for vengeance outweighs the desire for justice. Even the prime minister’s proposal that sex offenders be chemically castrated ignores the very relevant fact that the conviction rate in rape cases, which are already grossly under-reported, is a measly 3pc. Why is this so? Because police investigations are defective and blatantly compromised and the justice system has little interest in seeing justice done.
The motorway rape case has exposed once again the failure of our law-enforcement and legal systems. Going by the most recent developments, and assuming that the police have zeroed in on the right suspects, it is clear that when their feet are held to the fire, law-enforcement agencies can perform the way they are supposed to. Had they done so earlier in the case of one of the suspects, described as a ‘habitual rapist’, he may not have been free to commit his latest alleged rape and several women would have been spared the ordeal they were put through.
According to law enforcement, this individual was also involved in a gang rape case in 2013 but, outrageously enough, was released from custody after compromise between the two parties. Under the law, rape is a non-compoundable offence. The example of many countries lies before us: it is the certainty of punishment, not its severity that acts as a deterrent to crime. Meanwhile, what can better illustrate the extent of the rot in Pakistan’s law enforcement that the Lahore High Court chief justice has warned the CCPO Lahore against extrajudicial killing of the suspects in the motorway gang rape case? The Attorney General made some eminently sensible observations about our flawed and inequitable criminal justice system. Only structural and procedural changes can make it one that actually serves the people. We have developed into a rudderless nation where the common man has become a colonial subject against whom slavish laws are being enacted.
There is a relativity to every heinous crime that should apply to every segment of society according to Islam. Further, the manner our society has developed in the last decades, we find that two distinct classes of people have emerged. One is the affluent class on who law does not apply and one is the colonial common man who is subjected to slavish laws. A new law is being moved in Parliament to legalize castration and public hanging for rape. In my opinion this is being done emotionally and cheap political gain. Since a rape has been committed recently, the whole focus of the government is in that direction. In my opinion having an illegitimate child is as heinous as rape.
Shouldn’t the above law apply to them. Most of our Molvies and Feudals have married several times without the permission of first wife. Such a marriage is not allowed in Islam. We live in a feudal society where rape, coerce and murders are done in broad daylight but the affluent gets away with it. Our political system has developed in a manner that any party and any political leader can come back into power anytime. Therefore all government servants salute every party leader whether in power or not. Our courts are full of cases where paid evidence is galore. Should such laws be enacted when there is so much wrong in the society.
In my opinion I would do away with capital punishment as that would be a very easy end to the crime. He should be given life punishment and such treatment that he would beg for death but not given. Further, there is so much to be corrected in term of our feudal society and colonial mindset that enacting castration and public hanging laws would amount to knee jerk action. Our society will only change if the common man is given his rightful place.
—The writer is former Federal Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan and currently Chairman National Democratic Foundation.