The testing times for judiciary
The much awaited decision on the appeal of Mumtaz Qadri who killed Salman Taseer, then governor of Punjab in a cold blooded manner is still pending in Islamabad High Court. The case is a litmus test for the judiciary. Mumtaz Qadri was sentenced to death on Oct 1, 2011 by the Anti-terrorism Court and later on he filed an appeal to overturn his conviction.
The long delay in coming of the decision has caused some concern and raised some suspicions about the serious intent of the government in dispensing justice. The lack of seriousness on the behalf of the state can be seen by the fact that attorney general’s office reported to have lost a vital file relating to the case and the federal law ministry was reluctant to appoint a brave lawyer to prosecute the killer of Salman Taseer. The unnecessary and unwarranted delay of more than three years in bringing justice to family of deceased Salman Taseer is giving religious extremists a clear message that the state of Pakistan has grown weak and lacks the will and coercive authority to tackle terrorist threat.
Ironically, in Qadri’s case there is not much for the prosecutor and the defense to argue over as Mumtaz Qadri proudly confessed to have assassinated the governor. The defense counsel’s arguments are not based on killer’s insanity, or his sense of provocation. The legal issue involved in case is quite simple for the judges to decide which is: whether it is lawful under the constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan to kill any person because of his opposition to the blasphemy laws. Still the court has taken over three years and the final decision is yet to come. Let’s us hope and pray that the honorable court will stick to their oath of upholding the lofty principles of justice no matter if the heaven were to fall.
The other challenging case for the apex court in the coming days will be petitions which are filled against the 21st Amendment which was passed overwhelmingly by the parliament. The Supreme Court will have to tackle the thorny question if the establishment of military courts is against the basic structure of the constitution of Pakistan. It is undoubtedly true that the military courts create a parallel criminal justice system. It is imperative for the court to decide what serves Pakistan’s best interests in these challenging times. Thousands of innocent Pakistanis have lost their lives in massive wave of terrorism sweeping all over Pakistan. Various terrorist organization operating on Pakistani soil challenge the very writ and the sovereignty of state of Pakistan and danger its very existence. No doubt the doctrine of necessity has been overruled and invalidated by the Supreme Court by holding Nov 3, 2007 emergency illegal. There are convincing arguments both in favour and against 21st Amendment. The court shall weigh both set of arguments before coming out with some verdict.
The decision on the Qadri’s appeal and petitions challenging the 21st amendment of the constitution will heavily impact the present and future of our troubled country. Let us hope our judiciary makes fair, and just decision in the best interest of Pakistan.
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