Where is the Law?

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The Law is there. It is the resolve to Prosecute that is Absent

Sahar Bandial writing in the Express Tribune of August 19th under the caption “Where is the Law?” in respect of the abused children of Kasurstates that, “There is no provision in the Pakistan Penal Code that deals specifically with the sexual abuse of children”. The tag below her picture states that she “is a practicing lawyer and teaches law at two colleges in Lahore”. How specificor rather explicit does she want the law to be?

I would argue that the flaw is not in the law – even the Pakistan Penal Code – but the glaring absence of the resolve on the part of the Punjab Government to prosecute the accused and deliver justice. When the bastards have sprung from your own loins why would you want to prosecute them, sounds logical.“They may be bastards alright, but they are our bastards”, so goes the argument in the corridors of power in Lahore.

At the sametime the question arises as to why would any conscientious person, any lawyer worthy of his/her brief, even an armchair activist, seeking justice for the abused and tormented children of Hussain Khan Wala limit the long arm of the law to the Pakistan Penal Code. Why not look beyond the Penal Code to the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) which is the law of the land since 1997 and specifically provides “for speedy trial of heinous offencesand for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto?

Article 1 informs us that the Act extends to the whole of Pakistan and it shall come into force at once. [Punjab Province].

So there is no issue with its validity or enforceability.

Article 2Clause (d) describes a child as “a person who at the time of the commission of the offence has not attained the age of eighteen years;”

Weren’t the Victims children as described above?

Article 2 (j) describes “grievous” as “in relation to bodily injury means emasculation, or serve harm or hurt.

It is well established from studies done in the US on prison inmates that repeated acts of anal rape can and does psychologically emasculate the victim. It is also well established that anal rape, especially when the victim is a child causes “severe harm or hurt” and the repetition of such acts causes anal bleeding.

Is physical emasculation, i.e., the removal ofthe external male sex organs necessary to prove the offence?

Article 2 (m) defines “hostage-taking” as“the holding of a person captive with threats made to kill or harm that person if demands are not met”.

Isn’t this, what happened at Hussain Khan Wala, threats were made to harm the person held hostage under threat untilthat person submitted to the demands of the perpetrators, i.e., anal rape?

Article 2 (n) defines “kidnapping for ransom” as “the action of conveying any person from any place, without his consent, or by force compelling or by any deceitful means inducing him, to go from any place, and unlawfully detaining him and demanding or attempting to demand, money, pecuniary or other benefit from him or from another person, as a condition of his release.

Isn’t this what was the modus operandi applied by the perpetrators in Hussain Khan Wala?

Article 2 (o) defines “meeting” as “a meeting of two or more persons, whether in public or private”,

Didn’t the perpetrators meet to discuss and decide on their criminal activities? Does this not lead to the charge of“conspiracy”?

Article 4 details the Calling in of armed forces and civil armed forces in aid of civil powers.

1) It shall be lawful for the Federal Government to order, and subject to sub-section (2) for the Provincial Government to secure, the presence of armed forces and civil armed forces in any area for the prevention and punishment of terrorist acts and scheduled offences in accordance with the provisions of this Act.

What is stopping the Federal Government and the Provincial Government of Punjab from calling on the Armed Forces or the Rangers to enter and secure the area of terrorist activity and punish the perpetrators of these terrorist acts?

Article 6 defines “Terrorism” as

1) In this Act “terrorism” means the use or threat of action where:

(a) The action falls with the meaning of sub-section (2).

And (b) the use or threat is designed to coerce and intimidate or overawe the Government or the public or a section of the public or community or sect or create a sense of fear or insecurity in society;

2) An “action” shall fall within the meaning of sub-section(1), if it:

(B) Involves grievous violence against a person or grievous body injury or harm to person;

(D) involves the doing of anything that … endangers a person’s life;

(e) Involves kidnapping for ransom, hostage-taking or hijacking;

Weren’t the perpetrators involved in each of the above?

Article 7 describes the Punishment for each terrorist action.

  1. Punishment for acts of terrorism– whoever commits an act of terrorism under Section 6, whereby,

(c) grievous bodily harm or injury is caused to any person, shall be punishable, on conviction, with imprisonment of either but may extend to imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to a fine; or

We have already established that grievous bodily harm was committed on the person of the victims, not once but repeatedly.

(e) The offence of kidnapping for ransom or hostage-taking has been committed, shall be punishable, on conviction, with death or imprisonment for life and shall be liable to forfeiture of property; or

It has also been established that the victims were kidnapped and under threat grievous bodily harm inflicted repeatedly on their persons against their will.

It is not only fallacious to contend that there is no law to effectively prosecute and punish the perpetrators of these heinous crimes but also a severe damper on the hopes of the victims and their families for justice, like taking away the last straw which they have been holding on to in these turbulent and difficult times that they are facing.

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Syed Mumtazuddin Ahmad is an overseas Pakistani for several decades but still passionate about Pakistan and the issues confronting it. An Ex-Banker now engaged in the Resource Sector based in Hong Kong.

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