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In Pakistan Justice is not blind…



Islamabad (Imran Y. CHOUDHRY) :- Former Press Secretary to the President, Former Press Minister to the Embassy of Pakistan to France, Former MD, SRBC Mr. Qamar Bashir analysis :
In Pakistan, interestingly, the notion that the very foundations of justice, constitutionality, and universally recognized principles that underpin a civilized society have been proven wrong. This is a unique country where justice is not blind but dispenses justice with both eyes wide open, and where individuals, facing similar charges, find themselves on opposite ends of a chasm, where justice is obscured by the shadows of arbitrariness.

In our country, one person is cast as a pariah – a terrorist, anti-state, a menace to society in the greater national interest. He is thrust behind cold, unforgiving bars. His business, a lifeline, is ruthlessly destroyed. His name is etched on an exit control list, effectively cutting the ties that bind him to his family and sanity. His loved ones are tormented, their voices silenced through intimidation and fear. Worse still, his fate is determined not in the light of a fair and impartial courtroom, but in the secretive safe houses where he is grouped alongside hardened criminals and terrorists, his identity blurred into a terrifying caricature.

The narrative dictates that even the slightest hint of leniency in his case would place the entire nation, the very pulse of Pakistan, in grave peril. It’s a narrative that shrouds him, literally, as he stands before the judge – handcuffed, face hidden from view. Hundreds of armed personnel envelop him, rendering him more spectacle than human.

And it doesn’t end there. The tapestry of injustice continues to unravel as politicians, businessmen, students, traders, and laborers – all arrested under the pretext of involvement in the 9th of May incidents – are suddenly transformed, almost magically, into the very monsters that threaten the heart and soul of Pakistan.

Certainly, the events of May 9 were seen as a seismic moment, equated to the shock of 9/11 in the USA, and in response, the establishment in Pakistan, much like the United States, held little mercy for those deemed responsible. The approach taken was relentless, characterized by a unique blend of geofencing and political fencing, to unmask and bring the perpetrators to justice.

It’s undeniable that similar tactics were employed, mirroring the U.S. response to its enemies. The pursuit of these criminals was unyielding, pushing the boundaries of conventional investigative methods. Much like their counterparts in Guantanamo, these individuals became subjects of aggressive interrogation techniques.

The detainees were effectively stripped of any legal standing. They languished in captivity for protracted periods, deprived of the fundamental right to be charged or to have access to legal representation .

Our state, like a mother selectively and rightly so, gave the hardcore terrorists and criminals, even being genuine threats to the state’s security and stability, an extraordinary choice. They were presented with the opportunity to cleanse their slate, to be reborn without any blemish or apprehension, and to resume their lives with a clean slate after denouncing their involvement in the May 9 violence.

In exchange for their freedom, they were encouraged to paint a chilling narrative – one in which their chairman was portrayed as the mastermind behind the May 9 attack, the puppeteer behind a populace incited to attack military installations. According to this narrative, when the heinous act occurred, the accused had been blissfully ignorant, playing no part in it whatsoever. To complete this transformation, they were merely asked to renounce politics or, alternatively, join the IPP, as if to offer a symbolic cleansing of their past actions.

All of a sudden, those who had been labeled as terrorists and hardcore criminals found themselves absolved of their sins, their violent and terroristic acts forgiven and swiftly granted the status of free citizens, bypassing the intricacies of the legal process.

Meanwhile, those who did not acquiesce, those who refused to utter the required confessions, disavow politics, or implicate their chairman in the orchestration and manipulation of public youth for attacks on military installations, continued to be treated as unyielding criminals and terrorists. Justly or unjustly, they remained deprived of their fundamental rights, ensnared within a justice system wielded as a tool for coercion, punishment, and the erosion of their resilience and resolve.

The state, much like a mother, seemed unafraid to sidestep established rules, laws, and constitutional principles when the safety of its children was at stake. This nurturing devotion of the state, reminiscent of a mother’s protective love, was fully in evidence when one of its sons, previously branded a convict, absconder, and fugitive under the law and rules, arrived at Lahore airport. It was as though the state had unfurled the red carpet, facilitating a court proceeding right at the airport to conduct his biometric testing.

Escorted to his opulent residence for some well-deserved rest after a grueling journey, he was given a reception akin to that of a head of state. Following a refreshing bath, a change of attire, and a moment of rejuvenation, he was whisked away by helicopter to the iconic Minar-e-Pakistan. There, in front of a massive crowd, he delivered a speech that resonated like a son’s magnanimous forgiveness, publicly absolving the state, its institutions, and all those bureaucrats, army personnel, and judges who had, in one way or another, been entangled with his imprisonment and his extended stay in London, spanning over four years.

The very next day, the state escorted him to the courtroom, where the institution responsible for the grave error in judgment and for transgressing the law to declare him a convict awaited his arrival with marked humility. With a profound sense of remorse, he openly acknowledged his own mistakes, beseeching the court to permit him the opportunity to make amends. He implored the court to suspend the warrant it had issued, and in an act of honorable redemption, declare him a free man. In doing so, they would pave the path for him to ascend to the role of Prime Minister in the service of our great nation, guiding it toward the heights of unparalleled glory.

Our state, bearing the likeness of a caring mother, also called into question the universally accepted norms of justice, which hinge on the principle that justice ought to be dispensed without prejudice or favor, irrespective of a person’s social standing, wealth, power, or other defining traits. It rests on the premise that the law should apply with equal weight to every individual, irrespective of their background or identity.

In its wisdom, the state rightly posited that even a Lady Justice, blindfolded and holding her scales and sword, emblematic of impartiality and neutrality, should safeguard her own progeny, even if they bore the burden of criminality or a hardcore terrorist label.

Our state has, in a pioneering move, introduced a novel concept to the world – that justice was never truly blind. According to this perspective, justice should, first and foremost, assess whether those seeking its services comply with the state’s directives. Moreover, in dispensing justice, personal biases, discrimination, and partiality should be allowed to exert their influence, ensuring that those who obey are treated differently from those who resist or disobey the state’s commands.

The experience, at least in the case of Pakistan, has challenged the prevailing notion that the impartiality of justice is a linchpin for maintaining the integrity of legal systems in democratic societies. Instead, it has revealed that, in certain contexts, the application of justice can be a multifaceted and nuanced phenomenon, which may not always adhere to the ideal of blind impartiality.

Notably, Pakistan has shown that its justice system, paradoxically, operates at its zenith when it acknowledges its biases, practices discrimination, and, in certain cases, forgoes impartiality.

The appreciation of the value of the Pakistani Rupee and the outstanding performance of the Pakistan Stock Exchange has contradicted the notion that a lack of a fair and impartial justice system deters foreign investment and economic development. Businesses, it turns out, may be more concerned about the absence of legal protections and contract enforcement.

Additionally, the state’s extraordinary popularity in a recent survey refutes the idea that when people perceive the justice system as skewed and believe they have no legal recourse to address grievances, it inevitably leads to social unrest and protests or escalate into political instability or violence.

Lastly, the belief that countries with compromised justice systems would invariably face international criticism, sanctions, or isolation due to concerns about human rights abuses and the disregard for the rule of law has been disproven in certain contexts.

With these factors in our favor, we have a strong belief that dispensing justice with both eyes wide open will help rebuild a trustworthy justice system and restore public confidence. The benefits of a justice system on the path to recovery are already evident, and these factors will positively impact the country’s political and social landscape. We expect to deflect international pressure, quell demands for legal reforms, and even the advocacy for human rights. Ultimately, these aspects will contribute to building a strong democracy, fostering a robust economy, and emerging as a resilient and vibrant nation in the global community.

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