Stories about law

Ferguson, a window into our own cases of police brutality

I have been arrested. I have been handcuffed. I have been put in jail. I have had a police officer put a gun against my temple in the middle of the road in Defence. I have had a police officer threaten to indict me with charges of rape and murder if I do not give him money. There is no record of any of this because I never committed any crime. My “crimes” ranged from driving on the road at 2am to being in a car with a girl without possessing a ‘Nikkahnama’. I would not call them bribes, it was extortion. ...

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Is mob justice the only option left?

“Robbers beaten up by people in xyz area,” “Police save and arrest robbers caught and beaten up badly by the people of the neighbourhood they were robbing,” “One robber dead and others badly injured when angry mob caught them running away after looting a house.” These are just a few of the headlines that I have come across on various news channels. Mob justice seems to have become the latest method of justice being meted out across Pakistan; I hadn’t realised how prevalent it was in Karachi until very recently. My initial reaction to mob justice was always a shake of the ...

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Imran still in the game, but will civil disobedience work?

In the movie Jinnah, there is a telling scene when Mountbatten asks Mahatma Gandhi to give up his protests and play “by the rules”. Gandhi replies, “In order to play by the rules, you have to include us in the game.” Imran Khan feels similarly cheated of things promised by the Constitution. I disagree with him but why are many PTI supporters on the defensive about civil disobedience? What are the objections? The most obvious is that it is ‘illegal’. A simple, and powerful, retort: “so what if it is illegal?”.  The call for a mid-term election might have been couched in a different language ...

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Rallying behind Imran Khan

I believe we can all agree that Pakistan needs, above all else, strong state institutions and the rule of law. These are the only way in which a proper modern country can function. They are necessary to ensure the social stability necessary for a functioning democracy and a prosperous market economy. But when powerful individuals can sway the institutions of the state to serve themselves, when they can bend the rule of law and use the mechanisms of the state for private gain, then that can no longer be called a modern state. When there are individuals, business leaders or politicians ...

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The logic (or lack thereof) behind the Protection of Pakistan Act 2014

The Protection of Pakistan Bill 2014 has been honoured with the presidential seal and is now officially the Protection of Pakistan Act 2014. We are told it is ‘an extraordinary law for an extraordinary situation’, having the validation of a strong legislature. That the act is a repressive law, impinging upon the fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution is a settled matter, discussion whereof is now futile and can be equated with banging ones head against a wall. What we should discuss, however, is the thinking or logic which led our lawmakers providing legal sanction to such flagitious police practices as detention on ...

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Mother’s Day: Why can’t I meet my children?

They won’t let me see my kids. Failing at marriage is an excruciating affair, but not a punishable crime. So why do we witness so many families suffering endlessly when there are four guardian courts working in Lahore alone? Is it the workload, absence of supporting law or mere lack of implementation that keeps a child from meeting one of the parents? None of the people I meet understand why I cannot see my kids. Even a sick-minded killer, an abuser or an addict has a right to meet his children under supervision. The law governing custody issues does need amendments, but it’s the ...

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Stop using flashing lights, sirens and fake number plates, it’s illegal!

Karachi suffers from a serious law and order situation. Along with criminals, some of the rich and powerful citizens and state institutions also challenge the law for their own advantage. A number of private and government vehicles are illegally using emergency flashing lights installed on the roof or hidden in the front grills of their cars. They are seen casually flashing these emergency lights and impersonating as police vehicles, using the conventional red and blue colours. These cars are seen driven rashly, and the drivers continuously honk and harass others in traffic. Some of them are private vehicles with families sitting inside and one wonders what emergency ...

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Protection of Pakistan Ordinance: Always guilty unless proven innocent?

The government tightened the anti-terror legislation of the country last month, as President Mamnoon Hussain approved the Pakistan Protection Ordinance (PPO). It declares all peace-disrupting elements as ‘enemies of the state’ and states protection of life to be the state’s top priority. However, many clauses of the PPO remain controversial. One such clause is clause 14 on burden of proof which reads, “An accused facing the charge of a scheduled offence on existence of reasonable evidence against him shall be presumed to be engaged in waging war or insurrection against Pakistan unless he establishes his non-involvement in the offence.” The drafters of the legislation appear to be ...

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The right to write: Denied!

Journalism – a profession of disseminating news – has attained the status of an endangered profession globally. Incidents of violence and state sponsored prosecution attempts against journalists have become a de jure way of life for many. Prosecution and persecution to some degree, comes with the territory, if you will. This is unfortunate considering the burden that falls on a journalist’s shoulders. On January 29, 2014, there were several news stories of the Egyptian government’s decision to file charges against 20 journalists working with Al Jazeera on the pretext of risking national security. In my opinion, suppressing the voice of one journalist is akin to suppressing the ...

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To survive at NADRA you must (not) obey the law?

NICOP and Smart NICOP facilities were started by NADRA in an attempt to assist overseas Pakistanis who send a considerable amount of their income to Pakistan and invest in the country despite the deplorable situation here. Here is the sad story of my pursuit to get this card.  My first attempt:  On October 20, 2013, I made my first attempt to acquire the Nicop. For that, I went to the Nadra office at Deans Trade Centre in Peshawar. After having spent two hours waiting in the queue at the token counter, I was told by the officer that the Nadra Dean Centre office did not accommodate applications for the ...

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