Pakistan Protection Ordinance


So far, so good

Within less than a fortnight the president has signed two ordinances aimed at curbing terrorism and syndicated crime. While this indicates the seriousness of the government about ridding the country of the curse, ordinances with a short shelf life need to be replaced with permanent laws passed by the parliament after a thorough debate. Hopefully this would not be delayed.

The earlier ordinance sought to redress the complaints by the Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) that courts often released terrorists and criminals arrested by them at great risk to their own life. The government also maintained, Nawaz Sharif being the latest to do so, that the courts too sometime let the criminals off the hook under pressure. The courts maintained that the police prepared weak cases because of threats from the terrorist networks and because the witnesses turned hostile for fear of life. The amendments enshrined in the earlier ordinance were aimed at ensuring a mechanism for the protection of witnesses and judges. These included allowing the electronic evidence in terrorism related offenses. Another important amendment was to extend the period of detention to ninety days. While this would give three months to the investigators to prepare cases but this might not make a big difference in present circumstances.  The Karachi police claims to have arrested 3,976 accused last month alone in their drive against alleged criminals. There is already a large backlog of cases under investigation. Unless the provincial government employs hundreds of competent investigators with a fair knowledge of law, it may not be possible to process all the cases efficiently within the extended period of detention. The Pakistan Protection Ordinance further strengthens the hands of the LEAs. The minimum punishment given in a category of cases under Chapters VI, VII, VIII and IX of the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860, and related laws has been re-determined at 10 years instead of a simple fine. This would hopefully deter some of the weak willed among the local collaborators, handlers and hosts of the terrorists. As demanded by FC in Karachi, the new ordinance provides protection of law to civil and military LEAs and their personnel in the discharge of their duties within the parameters of the constitution. From now on, separate police stations and special federal courts will be designated to deal with crime syndicates.

So far, so good, but unless the masterminds who plan the attacks remain intact in their tribal strongholds, the mischief and terror is bound to continue and flourish. There is a need now for a firm action against the ring leaders.


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