Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa once again confirmed the death sentences to 11 “hardcore terrorists”, The convicts were accused of attacking armed forces/ law enforcement agencies of Pakistan as per a statement released by ISPR, media wing of Pakistan Army on 24 Nov 2018. Besides, the 11 terrorists given the death sentence, 22 others have been awarded death sentences the release said.
Birth of Military Courts in Pakistan
Military courts were set up in Pakistan after the deadly 2014 Taliban attack. However, did birth of these courts allow unlawful use of death penalty by Pakistan Army and State? In Pakistan hanging, stoning and other outlandish sentences such as death by mutilation caused by incisions and acid were the adapted methods of execution which the Pakistan Army and Judiciary used to exercise in open until a moratorium on executions was imposed in 2008. However, the APS tragedy in Peshawar in 2014, which left 140 innocent children dead, re-invoked the reintroduction of this ghastly punishment. As per defence.pk it has brought the country’s annual rate of executions to the highest point in its history making it the third most prolific executioner in the world.
Pakistan’s failed state machinery and Army resort to laziest and easiest way to save face – unlawful death penalty
For a red-faced Pakistan Army and a failed state machinery, this was the laziest, easiest and most inhuman way of show of power to the guilty and the not guilty. This move was strongly condemned by the United Nations and Human rights campaigners who said it would do little to impede the Taliban. And as is seen the rampage of death sentences since 2014 has done nothing to deter the criminals in Pakistan. It is foolish to think that a suicide bomber will be deterred by the death penalty, however, to implicate a defaulter and hang him till death is a cowardly way of dealing with the issue.
Pakistan conveniently following big brother China in murdering its own people by issuing unlawful death penalty
Pakistan’s big brother China and North Korea are believed to be among the world’s top executioners. However, specific figures are difficult to obtain because they are concealed by the authorities. Together, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan accounted for 87 percent of all recorded worldwide executions.
As per gulf news, Pakistani military courts had heard 274 cases on national security and had awarded death sentences to 161 terrorists until Dec 2016. Sixty (116) convicts are hung by now and another 450 awarded death sentences until Jan this year. That is three times of what Gen(R) Raheel Sharif sentenced in three (03) years.
Unlawful death penalty on a wide array of lesser offences
Since the lifting of the moratorium, 800+ executions have been carried out. This means that an average of 04 executions have been carried out every week since the death penalty was reinstated, with the highest number of executions taking place in the province of Punjab. Whilst there is no confirmed figure for Pakistan’s total death row population, reports suggest 20,000 prisoners remain at risk of imminent execution.
A press release issued by the JPP on Saturday said that in as many as 88 per cent of ‘terrorism’ cases, there was no link to a terrorist organisation or anything that could be reasonably defined as terrorism.
The question is when Pakistan’s Constitution exempts military law and laws for the discipline of police and security forces from constitutional provisions protecting the individual’s right to life how is General Qamar Bajwa on a death sentencing spree. Article 185 specifically addresses appeals to the Supreme Court in cases involving a death sentence. Under Article 227 of the Constitution, Islamic law impacts the rights of Muslims in Pakistan, and under Article 203, the Federal Shari’at Court can determine the applicability of Islamic law in certain death-eligible cases. However, in Pakistan nothing is above Pakistan Army and constitution is just a framework to suit their designs and tamper with as when need be.
The widespread reliance on confessions obtained by torture violates the right to a fair trial
“Pakistan’s justice system is ridden with deficiencies and abuses of authority,” says Sarah Belal, director at rights group Justice Project Pakistan. “Police routinely coerce defendants into confessing, often by torture, and courts admit and rely upon such evidence.”
Unlawful death penalties: Bribes in return for favourable judgements
Pay bribes and irregular payments in return for favourable judgments is a big corruption racket running in Pakistan. Ask any Pakistani if he/she has faith in their own judicial system you will know for yourself that there is truth in the can of worms unboxed.
However, this time it is not just corruption in Pakistan which is worrying, it is the barbarism and inhuman approach towards its own people to fulfil own aspirations; could be political or professional or personal. A callous method adapted to justify to the people of Pakistan by giving them a false sense of security that terrorists are put behind bars.
Any 18 year old would also understand that with the speed in which people are apprehended, abducted, go missing & sentenced to death, Pakistan should have by now been a corruption free and safe country to live in. Why is it still touted as the 2nd most dangerous city for women in the world? Why does Pakistan suffer from regular shutdowns, protests against its spineless government? Why are cases like that of Zainab occurring on a daily basis? Why are travel warnings issued by the west to travel to its ally country?
Unlawful death penalties: Pakistan killing its own
All is definitely not well in Pakistan. It has ethically collapsed and morally stained by its own rulers, the Pakistan Army and the puppet state machinery. This betrayal will be hard for the people of Pakistan to digest, but by connecting the dots the true face of Pakistan Army and its corrupt politicians is unmasked.
The regular massacres in Balochistan, the ire of the west ~ who have facts to prove Pakistan as a haven of terrorists, the huge debts that have piled up, animosity with neighbours (India, Iran, and Afghanistan). What have the people of Pakistan got in return for trusting their beloved country with such erratic and corrupt leaders?
They have only got death, misery, uncertainty, unemployment, humiliation, atrocities on women, a prevailing negative vibe and a sense of fear in one’s own country.
Unlawful death penalties: How a mockery is made of the system
A fine example of how easily the so-called lawmakers make a mockery of the system in the above-stated context “unlawful death penalty” is given below:
Firstly, the widespread reliance on confessions obtained by torture violates the right to a fair trial. Cases like that of Shafqat Hussain that caught international attention proves that Pakistan’s justice system is ridden with deficiencies and abuses of authority.
Secondly, though Pakistan provides indigent capital defendants with counsel at state expense, the quality of representation is poor. The International Federation for Human Rights notes that, for the most part, state-appointed counsels are “young and inexperienced lawyers or brief fewer ones.” Furthermore, Pakistan does not provide for recourse to justice due to incompetent or ineffective counsel. More than half of the defendants in the cases reviewed suffered from inadequate representation by state-appointed lawyers in the early stages of their cases. In some, egregious errors by these lawyers directly resulted in convictions based on false testimony and in the execution of juveniles and members of other vulnerable groups that are owed special protection under international law.
For instance, Zulfiqar Ali Khan spent sixteen years on death row prior to his execution on May 6, 2015, by firing squad. When the prosecution presented falsified witness statements during his trial, Zulfiqar’s state-appointed lawyer failed even to challenge this testimony, causing irreparable damage to his case. Cases like that of Shafqat Hussain ~ A Juvenile Tortured Into A Murder Confession can melt any ones heart but the cruelty of Pak state (Army) doesn’t stop.
“They would tie my hands and feet together and run a thick wooden stick between them under my belly and suspend me like that and hit me on my feet. They even beat me with a chittar. I have scars on my wrists from the handcuffs and arm from the cigarette burns. They pulled out three of my fingernails and I was in excruciating pain. They even electrocuted me, through urination. I was tortured so severely and continuously that my mind ‘just stopped.’ They could make you say a deer was an elephant.”
Thirdly, Pakistan does not provide individuals with adequate time and facilities for the preparation of their defence.
Unlawful death penalties: Unidentified sources in the Pakistani government reveal running of an illegal racket at the cost of innocent lives
This is nothing but a huge racket; in the last four years out of the 12,000 sentenced death penalty 400+ are executed and rest languish in jail in inhuman conditions. These helpless people can only hire a lawyer and walk free if they pay the bribe at all levels. Pakistan army and the government are hands in glove in this corruption racket but in a country where Prime Ministers and high ranking military and government officials are involved neck deep in corruption, the people of Pakistan have little hope for any justice.
This issue has now caught the attention of HRC and other NGO’s worldwide, highlighting the disproportionate application of the death penalty on a wide array of lesser offences that do not constitute “the most serious crimes”.
When dug deep it is found out that this dramatic rise in sentencing death and executions in Pakistan is a murky racket which is not only unethical but insanely barbaric. Read
Given the current rate of execution in Pakistan, it won’t be surprising if in the near future, Pakistan follows its big brother China’s footstep; and makes capital punishment a state secret. For who knows there could be a connect between the Chinese slaughter and these merciless death penalties which go unchecked.
26 Nov 18/Saturday Written by Afsana