Mirza Aslam Beg
Timely dispensation of justice helps maintain correct balance of the social order, but persistent delays, distort the order, creating serious administrative and security problems, now being faced by Pakistan. There are more than 38000 cases with the Supreme Court and hundreds of thousands with the lower courts, pending over the years, denying justice to the people, with no solution insight. This has caused many serious problems, but the one, which has caused so much of death and destruction has taken away peace from the very recess of our souls – is TERROR.
Thus terror has become endemic to our day to day life, mainly because of delayed justice. There is a historic justification for this phenomenon, as one of the main causes of terror, related to our administrative and judicial fault line. In 1969, the law of the states of Swat and Dir was replaced by Pakistani Law. The people of the two states, having suffered the painful delays in dispensation of justice for over two decades, rejected our law and demanded that the Shariah Law of the State must be revoked. Their demand turned into protests and by 1990 became violent. Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto accepted their demand in 1994 and granted establishment of Shariah Courts in the two states. The process continued with a slow pace and was completely stopped by General Musharraf, who decided to crush the movement using the Army. The movement led by Sufi Muhammad and his son-in-law Fazlullah, spread to the adjoining areas of Bajaur and Khyber Agencies. Army launched full-fledged operations, forcing the rebels to flee to Afghanistan, where Fazlullah formed his rebel group and conducts terror operations inside Pakistan.
Musharraf added fuel to the fire by launching the Army in Waziristan in 2005. In 2007 he let loose his commandos to crush the protesting girls of Jamia Hafsa. Thus the rebellion spread far and wide, leading to formation of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, which continues to launch terror acts into Pakistan from across the Afghan border, as well as from within the country. In the process FATA, developed as the support base of these terror groups and was secured by the Army, yet terror has not died down completely. The tyranny of justice thus found its parallel into the administrative follies of the government, steeped into security obsessions, ruling-out compassion, reconciliation and dialogue. Indiscriminately ban has been imposed on the dissenting organizations and groups. As a result now there are more than two dozen banned outlets, let loose in the country.
As if this was not enough, the government now is hell-bent upon creating another terror base out of FATA. They want FATA to be merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhawa Province under Pakistani law, which is being opposed by Maulana Fazalur Rehman and Mr. Mahmood Achakzai, for political reasons, but they may not succeed and merger of FATA may take place. I am sure the people of FATA, like Swat and Dir, would also reject the merger. Their culture is different – as different, as ‘Ilaqa-e-Ghair’ has been for the rest of Pakistan for decades. They need to develop their own culture in a free environment, as a separate province. Pakistan has to provide them with all the support needed, to function as a province, because Pakistan disparately needs more provinces to create political balance, as an essential element of a robust democratic order.
The government of Pakistan and the higher courts of justice are quite cognizant of the need to introduce corrective measures, and remove the faults causing delays in dispensation of justice. It is a hard task to be undertaken by the experts to help evolve policy decisions by Parliament on this matter. This being the test case for the government and a very important issue for the general election 2018, it must be handled with utmost care, under the judicial reforms package to achieve timely dispensation of justice.
It is difficult to imagine the sufferings of our people because of delayed justice. It is suffocating for those who do not know the art of taking cover behind the weaknesses of the state, to exploit the poor and the defenseless. As a result, “An angry nation is ready to explode. The mood of the people is now turning from angry to rebellions”- Shaheen Sehbai. Public fury at Kasur on Zainab’s funeral and four years long furious agitation against corruption thriving under the law of the state; and terror eating away the peace of our souls, are unhealthy signs of a brewing storm.
— The writer, a retired 4-star General, is former COAS, Pakistan Army.