CHANGING ASIA By Waris Husain Dawn
In The Name of Terrorism
Photo by A sif Hassan/A F P
Paki sta n
A woman carries her baby during a protest of missing persons’ families in Karachi in 2008. The Pakistani government is allegedly unlawfully detaining hundreds of people in the name of the fight against terrorism.
Pakistan military’s new powers lead to arbitrary arrests and disappearances
he prisoners who were snatched up by Pakistan’s intelligence agents years ago from Adiala prison hobbled their way into Pakistan’s Supreme Court recently. Their deteriorated condition was enough to illicit gasps from members of the court, and one of the prisoner’s mothers suffered a fatal heart attack the day after seeing her tortured and emaciated son. Unfortunately, there are many more mothers who will grieve for their sons without knowing their fate under the military’s policy of enforced disappearance. If the Supreme Court wishes to tackle the illegal actions of the military, they will need to start by striking down several laws permitting the military to indefinitely detain citizens, prosecute them under military tribunals and deny them their right to appeal. While many believe that the army is acting without regard for the law in their kidnapping and illegal detention of 'terrorist suspects', they are mistaken. The power to wage this aggression is codified by law, the 16 •
first dating back to 1952. The 1952 Army Act has been used to legally justify military detentions, even though its provisions violate constitutional principles. Article 133 of this act states, “it is hereby declared that no appeal… shall lie in respect to any proceeding or decision of a court martial to any court exercising jurisdiction anywhere.” Similarly, the Pakistan Armed Forces Acting in Aid of Civil Power Ordinance of 1998 states that a suspect who was convicted by a military tribunal cannot appeal to any civilian court. Rather, they must appeal to the military for relief, and the appellate military court’s judgment “shall be final and shall
not be called in question before any court”. The Army Act was further expanded in 2007, such that it can now be used against military personnel and civilians alike. The 2007 amendment allowed the military to detain and court martial civilians suspected of the following crimes: Condemnation of the creation of the state and advocacy of abolition of its sovereignty, sedition and giving a statement conducive to “public mischief”.
The changes to the Army Act were installed partly to subject the Baloch to military detention and tribunals. March 9-22, 2012