JPP holds panel discussion on ‘Revisiting Pakistan’s Counter-terrorism Strategy’ at LUMS

JPP in collaboration with Lahore University of Managment Sciencs (LUMS) Model UN Society held a panel discussion titled ‘Who are we hanging? Revisiting Pakistan’s Counter-terrorism Strategy’ at Lahore University of Management Sciences on, 13 April 2016.

The discussion was moderated by Rashed Rahman, former editor of the Daily Times and former executive director of The Nation. Ayesha Siddiqa, author of ‘Military Inc.’, military scientist and political commentator, and Saroop Ijaz, lawyer at Human Rights Watch joined Sarah Belal, barrister and director of Justice Project Pakistan as panellists at the event.

The panellists highlighted major limitations in Pakistan’s counter-terrorism measures and proposed pragmatic solutions to enable the country to overcome its security challenges. Saroop Ijaz highlighted legal problems in the anti-terrorism legislation such as differences between the actual and the state derived definitions of terrorism. He lamented the fact that no efforts at reforming anti-terror legislation had been made to date even as military courts were set to end next year. Ayesha Siddiqa questioned the use of death penalty under the Anti-Terrorism Act and its social and moral implications, especially with regard to the law enforcing bodies such as police.

She explained: “the police in Punjab are aware of every single crime and criminal in the deepest corners of gali mohallas, (nook and corner of the city) be it smugglers, murderers, anyone. Even with that amount of information there is no control over the crime rate because the police are not allowed to take any legitimate legal actions.”

Sarah Belal delivered a detailed analysis on the increasing patterns of executions and how extra-judicial methods such as torture are regularly utilised in order to extract confession from prisoners at the anti-terrorism courts. She stated that, “out of the 380 people hanged since December 2014 to present day, only 39 had committed a terrorist offence or had links with terrorist organizations: that’s only one in 10 .” She further implored upon the fundamental rights and due process challenges faced by lawyers in defending their clients due to be executed.

Concluding the discussion, Rashed Rahman said, “Terrorism has come to Pakistan not out of the blue. It’s been the cumulative result and the unintended consequence by the policies followed by our state institution and evil civil reprieves in projecting [GAC1] through proxies’ power in the region, whether west or east.”

The talk attended by an audience ranging from students to professionals and journalists, was another attempt by JPP to re-examine and increase awareness about Pakistan’s present Anti-Terrorism Act reforms and counter terrorism strategy.