Where the real battle lies
30 Dec 2014
30 Dec 2014
It is a wake-up call, they say. A tragedy so awful the mind reels at the thought of it; the soul curdles at the sight of it. We've had many such wake-up calls.
We've had the Parade Lane mosque massacre, the Karsaz blasts, the Marriot bombing, the recurring apocalypses that the Hazaras have faced, the steady drip-drip of killings so many in number that it becomes impossible to even list them.
We wake, like sleepwalkers jolted into reality by a fall; shocked to find ourselves muddied and bloodied, wondering how we got here when a moment ago we were safe and warm in our beds.
As is our wont, we then clean ourselves up and go right back to bed, counting ad hoc measures as if they were sheep until sleep once again consumes us. If we wake, it is only to hit the snooze button.
This time, they say it's different. Certainly the moratorium on death penalties for terrorism cases has been lifted, to what seems like wide public acclaim. There are of course voices arguing that this is not a solution, especially in a country where the judicial system is deeply flawed. In the long run, even sooner, this will create rather than curb abuses, they say.
On the other side is the refrain that no other punishment can possibly be meted out to unrepentant mass murderers; that incarceration means little when terrorists have shown a capability to operate, recruit and even escape from jail.
The debate will continue, as it should, but the moratorium stands lifted and this is being projected as a sign of a new determination.
Then there arises the next logical question: what's the point of executing terrorists if the courts are largely unable to convict them to begin with? That the judiciary has been woefully deficient on this count is something even its most stalwart defenders will have to concede.
It's not just about procedural issues and lacunae in investigation and prosecution. The simple fact is that the state has been unable to provide protection to witnesses and judges, a failing that LeJ (Lashkar-e Jhangvi) head Malik Ishaq, among others, has routinely exploited.