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Pak military wants amendment in laws

world Updated: Jun 13, 2011 11:04 IST
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Pakistan military authorities have expressed serious concern over 'dismally' low rate of terrorists' conviction by courts throughout the country, and have asked the government to see if some necessary changes could be made in relevant laws, according to sources.

At a recent meeting between top civilian and military leadership, the issue of increasing number of terrorists securing easy acquittals from courts- mainly in the absence of adequate evidence- came up, the Dawn quoted sources, as saying.

The meeting decided to review all laws relating to the handling of terrorists, in particular the law of evidence, to identify loopholes for amendment or the need for addition of a new law.

The sources said that the military was particularly worried about the terrorists who had been arrested since the launch of army operations in Malakand division and FATA, but eventually acquitted by courts.

However, Barrister Zafarullah Khan, a Supreme Court lawyer, found little wisdom in the suggestion for amending the law of evidence, which he said was in practice in several countries and was being successfully implemented.

Accepting the alarmingly low rate of conviction of terrorists- some of them caught red-handed by law-enforcement agencies- Khan said the problem was not with the contents of the law of evidence but with the prosecution department of police, adding that this was a countrywide problem, not restricted to any particular province and area.

He said it was difficult to find an eyewitness in cases of suicide bombing or other terrorist activities.

"What is happening at the moment, police although complete their investigation they don't collect adequate evidence from court's point of view. As a result, an accused easily manages to secure a favourable judgment," said Khan.

The failure of prosecution by police was also substantiated by a Supreme Court official involved in monitoring provincial anti-terrorism courts.

However, the official agreed that there was a need to review not only the law of evidence, but also the entire legal set-up created in 1997 by the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to counter terrorist activities.

Over the past 10 years or so, the official said, the country had faced different types of terrorist activities and, therefore, the legal system needed to be revised accordingly.