PAKISTAN: Total collapse of the state and rule of law, the militants exercise their nefarious designs whether they are religious groups or lawyers 

The increase in the government’s tolerance of the actions of the militants and fundamentalists and the subsequent insecurity this causes has put the citizens in a state of wilderness and chaos. The failure of the state to provide security to its citizens and other fundamental rights such as: the right to practice the religion of their choice, freedom of speech and association and, of course, the right to have employment and unbiased education, has provided a strong basis for the militant organisations to take the law into their own hands. The irony is that the custodians of the law, the legal fraternity, is also resorting to the use of physical force against the courts and even the laws which should prevent citizens from taking the law in their own hand.

The state and the governments of all the provinces have become silent spectators on the issue of providing security to their own citizens. After the formation of the civilian government it has been observed that the intolerance of the fundamentalist religious groups and other professional organizations is rising. The dark side of the issue is that all the political parties who are in different provincial governments, including the federal government, are secular in their nature but political expediencies compel them not to take action against the bigots. The country has virtually become a danger zone for minority religious groups.

The most intolerant group to emerge after the successful movement for the independence of the judiciary was the lawyers who became gangsters in their efforts to keep the judiciary and law enforcement agencies under their pressure. Not a single month goes by without the violent actions of the legal fraternity and the abuse of judges.

In the recent days a banned religious militant group has unleashed terror and bloodshed against the Shia sect of Islam in the Balochistan and Kurrum agencies. After killing 32 Shias by targeted killings within a ten day period the banned organization again killed 13 Shias in broad daylight by repeating the same method. They ordered the Shia passengers of a bus to get off and placed them in a queue before a firing squad opened fire on them. This method has been ongoing since 2002 and when the civilian government was formed in 2008 target killings have increased many times.

What is appalling about this is that the killers are known to the government and the law enforcement authorities. Indeed, the killings take place in the heavy presence of more than a hundred check posts in the province and units from the Army, Frontier Corps and state intelligence agencies.

The governments in all the provinces and also at federal level are busy playing number games to avoid any threat to their governments and have left all affairs to the same bureaucracy and law enforcement agencies who were nurtured during the military dictatorial regimes and were trained to spread sectarianism and hatred through religious militancy. The purpose of this was to ensure that the population lived in fear and were silent and divided. The Zadari government is also following the same pattern and avoiding any action against the militant organisations because of its expediency and appeasement policy.

The monster of intolerance, because of the failure of the rule of law, has reached such a level that the custodians of the rule of law themselves find it easy to resort violent tactics for the implementation of their unlawful designs. A sizeable number of lawyers are demanding the release of a murderer, the police constable, who killed the former governor of Punjab province whom he was supposed to be protecting. In support of this cold blooded killer the lawyers are protesting against his death sentence from the Anti-Terrorist courts and ransacked the court room, forcing the judge to take long leave for his safety.

Incredibly, rather than support its own judiciary the government has failed to provide security to the judge in order to please the lawyers. The lawyers themselves are being supported by the Punjab government that provides shelter to the religious militant organisations in the province.

After the decision from the Anti-Terrorist Court, dozens of furious militant Islamist lawyers ransacked the courtroom of Judge Mr. Pervez Ali Shah, smashing windows to protest against the judgment. Finding no security from the Punjab government the Judge Shah is now not attending his office. The leaders of the attacks were the same lawyers who were the leaders at district level during the lawyer’s movement.

The Chief Justice, Justice Iftekhar Choudry, who is well known for his Sou Moto action (taking cases by himself) has never taken any action against the militant lawyers who had beaten the judges and ransacked the court rooms after the restoration of chief justice. It is said by the legal fraternity that the chief justice is treating these lawyers as his private political party. And, because of the alleged patronage of the chief justice to the militant lawyers the victimized judges of the sub ordinate court are being compelled to reach a compromise with gangsters.

Once again the policy of appeasement of the government of Pakistan is placing not only the citizens but now also the judiciary at risk.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AHRC-STM-137-2011
Countries : Pakistan,
Issues : Freedom of association, Freedom of expression, Freedom of religion, Right to education, Rule of law,