SC defines word ‘terrorism’


–Judgement authored by CJP says killing of someone, extortion and torture due to personnel dispute is not terrorism


ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan on Wednesday recommended the parliament to redefine the word ‘terrorism’ while focusing on violent activities aimed at achieving political, ideological or religious objectives.

A 59-page judgement authored by Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa states that the definition of ‘terrorism’ contained in Section 6 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 is “too wide and the same includes so many actions, designs and purposes which have no nexus with the generally recognized concept of what terrorism is”.

“Apart from that including some other heinous offences in the Preamble and the Third Schedule to that Act for trial of such offences by an Anti-Terrorism Court when such other offences do not qualify to be included in the definition of terrorism puts an extra and unnecessary burden on such courts and causes delay in trial of actual cases of terrorism,” it stated.

“It is, therefore, recommended that the Parliament may consider substituting the present definition of ‘terrorism’ by a more succinct definition bringing it in line with the international perspectives of that offence and focusing on violent activities aimed at achieving political, ideological or religious objectives,” the judgment added. “We further recommend that the Parliament may also consider suitably amending the Preamble to the Act and removing all those offences from the Third Schedule to the Act which offences have no nexus with the offence of terrorism.”

The judgment states that terrorism as in ‘ism’ is a totally different concept which denotes commission of a crime with the design or purpose of destabilising the government, disturbing the society or hurting a section of the society with a view to achieving objectives which are essentially political, ideological or religious.

“This approach also appears to be in harmony with the emerging international perspective and perception about terrorism,” the SC judgement said.

It also added that the international perception is also becoming clearer on the point that a violent activity against civilians that has no political, ideological or religious aims is just an act of criminal delinquency, a felony, or simply an act of insanity unrelated to terrorism.

“This metamorphosis in the anti-terrorism law in our country has brought about a sea change in the whole concept as we have understood it in the past and it is, therefore, of paramount importance for all concerned to understand this conceptual modification and transformation in its true perspective,” it said.