Protection of Pakistan Ordinance: A legal pass to abduct, torture and kill?

Published: February 6, 2014
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Heinous crimes are being committed in the name of security and sovereignty of the country. People are being abducted, detained and even tortured to death. DESIGN: SIDRAH MOIZ KHAN

Heinous crimes are being committed in the name of security and sovereignty of the country. People are being abducted, detained and even tortured to death. DESIGN: SIDRAH MOIZ KHAN The PML-N has successfully closed the missing persons issue in favour of our secret service agencies with the Protection of Pakistan Ordinance (PPO). PHOTO: RASHID AJMERI/EXPRESS/FILE

“Kaleemullah, 22, was coming out of a mosque in Kallar Syedan near Rawalpindi in June last year when personnel of an intelligence agency allegedly took him away. Son of a retired Khateeb of the army, Younis Farooq, Kaleemullah was found dead in a hospital in Chakwal on Jan 1.”

This news was published in newspapers on January 26, 2014. Initially, it was yet another addition to the list of missing persons and the former Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry pushed secret service agencies to produce the abducted in court. However, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had promised earlier that he would solve the missing persons issue once and for all since this issue has been haunting government agencies and wasn’t allowing them to ‘protect the integrity’ of Pakistan.

He came up with the Protection of Pakistan Ordinance (PPO) in October 2013 which gave a legal cover to the age-old practice of abduction, detainment, torture and killing mastered by our beloved agencies. According to this ordinance, missing persons would be considered ‘under custody’ and a petition of abduction cannot be filed against the secret service agencies. This ordinance also abolished the 90-day detention bracket for producing the detainee in court.

If rationale rules, our secret service agencies are in dire need of having their activities closely monitored as well as a strict scrutiny of the utilisation of their funds. More than 40 bomb blasts in January 2014 alone speaks volumes about their dismal performance.

The way these co-called illiterate terrorists have been foxing our ‘professional’ agencies repeatedly is quite humiliating to be honest. There has been a lot of hue and cry about how brutal these terrorists are but their wickedness and cruelty cannot be used as an excuse to justify the utter failure of our government agencies. How can trucks laden with ammunition be transported between cities before being smashed into government offices while law enforcement agencies remain helpless in stopping them or even tracking them down?

Hatred for government agencies is on the rise and it is not difficult to understand why. After all, our agencies have built a reputation of being more interested in political affairs than in the security of the country. This attitude of their being supreme and unaccountable was quite evident during the missing persons issue when their seniors didn’t even bother to attend the court proceedings.

The situation in Balochistan is growing from bad to worse. If uncountable bullet-ridden bodies were not enough, mass graves have also been found recently.

Heinous crimes are being committed in the name of security and sovereignty of the country. People are being abducted, detained and even tortured to death. They are never presented in court and one fine day their loved ones receive a call from a ‘private number’, asking them to collect the body of their son/husband/brother/father from some hospital. When the bereaved families arrive at the hospital, they find a medical report attached to the body stating that the man had lost his life due to a heart attack, malfunction of lungs or some other natural cause.

The Protection of Pakistan Ordinance (PPO) should perhaps be renamed the Protection of Agencies Ordinance (PAO) since it ‘legalises’ the abduction of common citizens on some obscure suspicion for an undefined period.

Government agencies already enjoy the status of being untouchable and unaccountable in Pakistan and with this ordinance on their side, they will be more lethal than ever. The PML-N has successfully closed the missing persons issue in favour of our secret service agencies and from here onward, these agencies will not bother answering questions in court – if the court even bothers to ask them in the first place.

Kaleemullah may be the first victim of this ordinance but he is definitely not the last.

Abdullah Ansari

Abdullah Ansari

An electrical engineer by profession, Abdullah works in the oil and gas industry. His interests include international relations, global politics and debating. He tweets @ChangingTrendz (twitter.com/ChangingTrendz)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Mehreen

    Every pride hath a fall and these sick agencies will face it too. When their time is up no law. Can protect them or their sick black deedsRecommend

  • Sane

    Very very true what the writer says.Recommend

  • ahmad

    that is the only way to protect pakistan
    OTHERWISE terrorists will enjoy FREEDOM with the help of current PAKISTAN’s JUSTICE SYSTEM
    because TERRORISTS not move around with EVIDENCE in their hand :)Recommend

  • Syed

    @Author..
    Though you have right to express your anger towards agencies, spilling venom against them doesn’t change the fact that they are facing enemy of multiple dimension. They have to go for extraordinary measure to protect Pakistan interests. Its not easy for even the best intelligence outfit to compete against several foreign agencies and their proxies. Former CJ released convicted terrorist because terrorist X failed to blow up his vest which in the eyes of CJ wasn’t a crime until happened.
    Desperate time call for desperate measures.Recommend

  • Ansari

    @Syed
    Completely agree that desperate time calls for desperate measures. That’s why it’s high time to make these agencies accountable to the court of law. If terrorists are going free from court, fault lies with the case of prosecution, agencies should work to prepare stronger case against those who commit these crimes. Believe me, I have attended the court for some of such cases, and generally, the case from prosecution is so weak that judge is left with no choice but to set him free.
    Everybody has to be accountable to law and none should be above the court.Recommend

  • Ansari

    @Ahmad

    What about giving the right of ‘shoot-on-suspicion’ to Police then? If agencies can’t track down terrorists, what else they are for. Mind you, It’s not limited to terrorists only, agencies have failed my city, i.e. Karachi, long before their advent. Karachi has been suffering from decades with around 27 different agencies are operating here.Recommend

  • anonymous

    @ahmad: terrorists still enjoy FREEDOM. Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com Anoop

    Does Pakistan actually need such laws when it has the ultimate George Orwellianesque ISI?

    Pakistan taking on such laws only prove the hollowness of protests against laws like AFSPA on the Indian side.

    When you are hit with an insurgency, you would have to provide legal protection to the guys who are fighting the battle. Sometime such things lead to abuse.

    Laws like these are necessary in desperate times.

    Atleast AFSPA is applied to Kashmir, while its not applied in many parts of the state. PPO laws have to applied to ENTIRE OF PAKISTAN!

    When will they be removed? Recommend

  • Syed

    @Ansari:
    No arguments there. Make them accountable upto the point where they can still perform their duty in an elegant way and arent dragged down or have to face the filthy comments or other form of BS from judge or the panel of judges. Their has to be a solution where they can be given direction and kept accountable. Remember they are secret agencies, it wouldn`t be so secret if they are hammered down by likes of hamid mir and no offense former CJ. Its illogical to say every missing person in pakistan is kept in some area-51 like secret sites, it could be true to a number of cases but not all of them.
    As far as karachi is concerned, i m a karachite too, but you know and i know, the only solution lies in taking away weapons from bhai and other form of militant wings of parties, give them stick and stones if they still wanna annhilate each other. We cant afford any political crap, not even from our so called political stakeholders. One always wonder what went wrong after Musharraf/Mustafa Kamal Era..Recommend

  • http://@net Chitral wala

    This is deja vu. State of Chile in South America.
    A replay of Salvador Allende,….Augustus Pinochet,
    All over, repeat, in living color.Recommend

  • http://India Feroz

    There are many ways of legitimizing illegality and PPO is being stealthily introduced as an ordinance. Having a dozen people picked up by Intelligence Agencies is itself a major problem being dealt with in most countries, with the Judiciary sending offenders behind bars. In Pakistan thousands have been illegally apprehended with corpses discovered months later, however the Court has never gathered courage to send a single offender packing. Such Ordinances will destroy the Rule of Law forcing many more to take up Arms, increasing bloodshed manifold.Recommend

  • Ansari

    @Syed

    Can’t agree more bro ..Recommend

  • rizwan

    This is not the country of free people. our politician don’t even think once when they pass such ordinance. the only way they can feel the gratitude of such inhuman ordinance when their loved once come in the heat of such acts and are abducted.
    There are few families indulge in so called democracy … in Pakistan democracy means the rule of illiterate affluent families.
    Recommend

  • mansoor khan

    this is very right-full ordinance i think. it helps secret agencies to minimize the threats against Pakistan.Recommend

  • mansoor khan

    we need to trust our agencies, they are not free to took everyone. only culprits and suspicious person are taken away. live long army stay blessed ISI.Recommend