LEJ, Alleged Police Encounter and Fair Trial

LEJ, Alleged Police Encounter and Fair Trial

The social media news feeds today are full of links and comments regarding the alleged police encounter between Punjab Police/Counter Terrorism Department and armed miscreants that resulted in the death of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s chief Malik Ishaq, his sons and others. If it is true that the police motorcade was ambushed by miscreants in an attempt to free Malik Ishaq and that the law enforcement officials fought back then the Counter Terrorism Department should be commended for its work.

However, the disturbing aspect of this story is the way people are rejoicing at Malik Ishaq’s death in this manner and at the same time assuming that it wasn’t a real encounter and that it symbolizes something more – probably a decision by the powers to get rid of people like Malik Ishaq in an extra-judicial manner. There is a problem with this thinking.

Everybody has a right to a fair trial. If the justice system is not delivering then we should work to fix it. If the trial in terrorism related cases takes too long we should have a fast track trial system, which we allegedly do, and hang the convicted criminals (until we have the death penalty in Pakistan).

We can’t raise hue and cry against the death penalty of a convicted murderer because he might have been a minor at the time of the offence and at the same time rejoice if an alleged militant is killed, as some people are suggesting, in an allegedly extra-judicial manner. We can’t have our cake and eat it too!

We should accept the story as it has been told. Malik Ishaq and his sons were killed as a result of fighting between brave policemen and armed LEJ sympathizers. We shouldn’t read too much into this or encourage the law enforcement agencies to carry out a string of “encounters” unless we are happy to live with the consequences of being “protected” by a trigger happy police force.

If our scoial media news feed is representative of our conscious (or otherwise) acceptance of the reality that we are a nation at war and that we are a national security state then we should be willing to surrender certain rights and let the national security state take its course.