Malik Ishaq’s release

It was a sad day for the justice system of Pakistan when an alleged killer and terrorist, Malik Ishaq, was released from prison after 14 years. Ishaq was one of the founder members of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), an offshoot of the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP). Both the LeJ and the SSP are known terror outfits and mostly indulge in sectarian violence. Upon Ishaq’s release, it was announced that he had given up his LeJ membership and joined the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jama’at. Ishaq is alleged to have killed scores of people, mostly Shias. He was also accused of having masterminded the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team back in 2009. Out of 44 cases lodged against him, Ishaq was acquitted in most cases while he was granted bail in the remaining ones. There are a number of reasons for his acquittal.

Pakistan’s justice system is weak in many ways, most notably when it comes to prosecution of terrorists and known criminals. Our investigation and forensic system and collection of evidence are almost non-existent. We do not have a proper witness protection programme, so many eyewitnesses are intimidated by the accused and/or his sympathisers. Some witnesses have lost their lives during a trial before or after testifying against terrorists. It is because of such incidents that people are afraid to testify. While granting bail is at the discretion of the judges, they too come under pressure during sensitive trials. It is for this reason that special laws are required in the special circumstances Pakistan is going through when terrorism is rampant in the country and the justice system has not been able to convict terrorists. As far as Malik Ishaq is concerned, the manner in which he was detained and ‘entertained’ in jail speaks volumes about our prison system. He is alleged to have been operationally active while in prison.

Britain implemented the Prevention of Terrorism Act when the Irish Republican Army (IRA) was considered to be a terror threat. Pakistan also needs to legislate proper anti-terror laws. The need of the hour is to empower the courts, the prosecution and law enforcement agencies so that dangerous social elements are kept off the streets and not released to wreak more havoc.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

Comments

Zahid Rasul said…
This is nonsense he was unfairly jailed for 14 yrs finally released because all the cases against him were false. Sipah sahaba are only defending the honour of Mohammed (s.a.w-) and his companions they never advocate violence & killings.

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