Governance failure: Anarchy or speedy justice?

Faisal Naseem Chaudhry has contributed this excellent piece for PTH. Apparently, the Supreme Court has taken notice of this incident. But this incident itself is reflective of the growing frustration among Pakistanis with respect to governance and in particualr the failures of the criminal justice system. As Faisal says people have lost faith in the judicial system, no matter whosoever heads the institution! Whilst Pakistan gears its creaky state machinery to face the monumental challenges ahead, this incident is a parable of our times. The pending reform agenda of improving the police, the courts and administration cannot be further delayed lest we want to promote anarchy and mayhem in the country. Raza Rumi

A horrifying incident took place in Mauza Buttar District Sialkot on 15 August when two alleged dacoits were not only stoned and beaten to death rather their dead bodies were hanged upside down for four hours in the presence of District Police Officer (DPO Sialkot), and later put on a tractor-trolley for public exhibition. According to the printed news appearing in Daily Express, Daily Khabrein, and Daily Pakistan;

1. A total of 4 dacoits were robbing people of their belongings at 6 AM on 15 August.

2. One namely Bilal was killed by the dacoits. A few others were injured.

3. Those injured were strong enough to get hold of two dacoits whereas remaining 2 managed to flee successfully.

4. The captured one were beaten and stoned to death, dead-bodies hanged with a pole.

5. After ‘negotiations’ the bodies were handed over to Police.

6. A case has been registered against the deceased ‘dacoits’ and their buddies who managed to flee the scene.

7. The grand-father of the deceased dacoits stated that one of them was a Hafiz-e-Quran; both were brothers and were going on a motorcycle to play cricket in the morning after SEHRI. When they were passing by the place of incident, they were apprehended by the village men (perhaps because they were riding a motorcycle and dacoits do it) and mercilessly killed.

The above incident reminds us of an incident dated February 2010 when two dacoits were burnt alive in Karachi.

While sitting in Central Punjab, we believed it was the alien violent culture of Karachi, not our problem. But the problem is knocking at our door and wouldn’t be a surprise if any one of us commuting on a road is stopped by a mob and burnt alive without formal charge supported by impeccable evidence.

Much has been debated in media about Courts acquitting culprits. The Courts on the other hand maintain that in the absence of proper prosecution supported by tangible evidence, they can not convict a person. The requirement of evidence is not only a hallmark of Western Criminal Law but a keystone of Islamic Law as well i.e. ‘it is better to err by acquitting a criminal rather than convicting an innocent’. This is why the standard of proof and evidence required in Criminal Trial has to be unimpeachable before a person can be convicted. An erroneous acquittal does not finish the matter certainly; then it is left between the offender and Allah.

The Sialkot Incident certainly leads to different conclusions.

Firstly, there is so much of uncertainty, confusion, and frustration in the society;

Secondly, people have lost faith in the judicial system, no matter whosoever heads the institution;

Thirdly, the lawlessness knows no boundaries.

Fourthly, bad governance also knows no boundaries no matter how tall are the claims of Great Administrators.

Fifthly, only a miracle can transform the Punjab Police. It be a Martial Law or a Western Democracy in country, the Police has always proved to be an extremely incompetent department in the administration of justice. This is unbelievable that the DPO was present there during the brutal show.

Lastly, CJ SC has taken notice of it and DPO Sialkot has been summoned to appear before SC Islamabad today. However, it will be another story that according to GEO the CJ took notice ‘only when’ the story was aired by GEO on 19 August Thursday. The incident took place on August 15, the clippings below are dated 16 Aug, so for 3 days (16 to 19) the suo moto jurisdiction was either sleeping or waiting for GEO.


Filed under Pakistan

6 responses to “Governance failure: Anarchy or speedy justice?

  1. Natasha

    A heart-wrenching incident indeed.

    Good job Faisal.

  2. DN

    The deteriorating law n order situation coupled with lack,of faith in the law enforcing agencies and the hope of getting any justice will further deteriorate the situation.

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  4. Hassan Q

    As news are unfolding it is being revealed that it wasn’t as simple (a mob attack) as it seemed in the begining! But it had some back ground to it.
    But this incidence just remind me of another incidence that took place on a busy day in the middle of Lahore city many years ago when an honest dutiful traffic policeman stopped a car for its dark glasses (that was banned then due to terrorrist attacks) and asked sheds to be remove to let the car go. That poor traffic policeman was severerly beaten up subsequently by army jawans with a broken jaw and other bones just becasue that car belonged to some God damned demi-god army general!!
    So in a society where law enforcers thems are beaten up for doing their duty in the middle of country’s cultral hub, you can expect anything at all.

  5. AZW

    The vigilante justice was no justice at all. Death is the ultimate punishment reserved for the most heinous of crimes. No one is killed anywhere for the crime of stealing and looting.

    But more importantly, two men were killed without having any chance to defend themselves. This was an inhuman murder of two citizens, and murderers must be brought to justice. Shame on all the silent spectators and especially the police personnel that stood beside as two young men were killed in broad daylight.

    Good to know that the Supreme Court has taken action, and the SHO is in jail right now. And special thanks to Faisal for bringing it to the fore here with this article.

  6. JM

    The sialkot incident of 2 yuth being beaten 2 death, is a sad,but cruel indictment of not only our brutalized society,but also our institutions,especially the abysmal failure of our law enforcement and governance mechanisms.Since, the 60s, the police has been systematically & endemically been abused by the political & military elite, which in turn eroded its effectiveness in providing protection 2 the lives, properties & honor of the people and turned in2 a vassal of these very elite.The incident has saddened me,but on another level has not surprised me @ all, since this & more like it r in the making, & we wud do gud 2 watch out 4 them in the aftermath of the floods.The society at large is angry & frustrated @ their political leadership, for failing them,not just in this hour of need, but also in the provision of daily services & utilities,which have become a struggle 4 survival 4 the common man.The police in its own right is angry n frustrated @ the political elite for continuous tinkering with its day 2 day working.Sad n unfortunate as it is, it will NOT change, coz change has 2 cum 4rm the very TOP,the politics have 2 change.They have 2 b brought out of the police station,patwar khana and kutcheri 2 meaningful public interest legislation & national issues.Only then wud the politicians OBSESSION with the policing system die down.These very politicians hound CMs 4 the postings of their blue eyed boys as SHOs n DSPs.Another reason is that “tenure postings” r never implemented and all such postings r @ the pleasure of the chief executive of the province,who’s pleasure is always like thin ice, coz he always heads a fractured n fragmented coalition government,which he manages 2 keep 2gether by doing run away politicians, such favors.Everything in this,as well as all other govt depts works on nepotism,corruption,jobbery and biradri. No wonder it has become dysfunctional, ineffective and useless,as far as the public is concerned, who perceives it as an instrument of repression,used against it, by the state.Untill & unless, the police is independent of political tinkering, in its day 2 day working and all recruitment,postings/transfers and promotions r done on merit, with a strict accountability mechanism,nothing will change.