Sindh’s apex committee has undertaken a few important decisions. The shifting of 250 ‘notorious’ prisoners from Karachi high security jails is a much needed step, especially in the wake of the recent jailbreak in the city in which two Lashkar-e-Jhangvi terrorists managed to escape. The committee also decided to send cases related to 110 alleged terrorists to military courts for trial. This is unlikely to result in speedy justice. While we support these decisions, the law enforcement agencies should be reminded that it is imperative to work on a long-term plan. Increased reliance on military courts is not a good omen for democratic governance. Fixing the formal justice system by capacity building of lawyers, judges, police and introduction of a witness protection system is the way to go. These steps will strengthen the civilian courts and improve the rate of conviction in terrorism cases.
Another important decision taken during the meeting was to declare land grabbing as an organised crime. However, the Rangers have not been granted the powers to act against those involved in the practice. The district administration and police have been assigned to carry out the task of checking land grabbing. Judging by the unsatisfactory progress in implementation of previous decisions of the apex body or National Action Plan (NAP) for that matter — the district administration has not been all too efficient. Political involvement, as before, affects police action, given the allegations of land grabbing against a number of provincial ministers.
The apex body also decided to deal with cyber crime cases and decided to seek powers from the federal government to register such cases.
We hope that the authorities will act against those practicing hate speech and incitement to violence on social media and that dissenters will not be targeted under the garb of anti-terror campaign. Sadly, this has been case in the recent past. Another issue that warrants immediate attention is the growing number of cases of enforced disappearances in the province. Human rights activists are being abducted from various areas of land as per their colleagues, the police seem to be least interested in recovering them. We urge Sindh Chief Minister to immediately look into the matter.
Meanwhile, it is intriguing as to why Punjab’s apex committee is so inactive. The body’s last meeting took place at the start of this year when the government had to make a decision about holding the PSL final in Lahore. The ongoing war against terrorism cannot gain complete success if there is decision-making is done on a selective basis. Punjab, being the country’s biggest province should take the lead in implemening the anti-terror plan. *
Published in Daily Times, August 13th 2017.