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> Parliament of Pakistan should consider appointing Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation in Pakistan: Lord Carlile
PILDAT Public Forum
April 24, 2014

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April 24; Pakistan should consider appointing Independent Reviewer of Anti Terrorism Legislation, recommended Lord Alex Carlile, QC and former Independent reviewer of Terrorism Legislation in UK. He was addressing a PILDAT Forum on Anti Terrorism Laws and Human Rights.


Other then Lord Carlile, the key speakers at the Forum included Barrister Zafarullah Khan, Federal Secretary Law, Maulana Muhammad Khan Sherani, Chairman Islamic Ideology Council, Mr. Tasneem Noorani, Former Federal Secretary and Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President PILDAT.


Sharing the UK experience, Lord Carlile said that the principle behind good counter terrorism laws is that these should be seen as normal and not exceptional and no Government should be able to take liberties with the law. The power of judicial review in UK as in Pakistan is available. He said that the UK law changed over the years from the initial custody of foreign terrorist suspects to now what are known as control orders. He also said that the range of human rights argument is narrower in UK than in Pakistan and while the intent of the PPO 2014 appears to be right, a greater scrutiny of text by the Pakistan Parliament may be required.


However a comprehensive anti terrorism regime in any country is not complete without trained police force and judges. Both police and judges are trained to try and convict criminals based on evidence and not confession. He also offered the UK assistance, through the British a High Commission in Pakistan, to provide capacity building and support to the Government of Pakistan in this regard.


Finally, he said, preventing violent extremism is a key part of anti terrorism legal regimes. UK has very active prevention programmed through which young and radicalized individuals are identified, drawn into a therapeutic session and are helped to find more lawful expressions. UK, in this process, has saved many dozen young men in this respect. Preventing terrorism is another area where UK is willing to help Pakistan, he offered.


Speaking at the Forum, Barrister Zafarullah Khan, Federal Secretary Law, said that a revised PPO 2014 draft, upon the direction of the Prime Minister, has been given afresh to political parties for review. The rationale behind the law is to bring into force a tougher anti terrorism law to tackle the tough challenge of combating terrorism in Pakistan. He said that the revised law, based on input by opposition parties in the National Assembly, takes into account some of the main concerns. The law should be taken as a work in progress but it should also be kept in mind that we need extraordinary laws to deal with extraordinary circumstances. He said if the law needs to be extended to FATA, the Parliamentarians of the FATA should be consulted first. He said that according to the Constitution any enemy alien could be treated equally like the citizens of Pakistan.


Maulana Muhammad Khan Shirani said that article 3 and 14 of the PPO 2014 deny Pakistanis their basic rights. He said that there should be dialogue between Islam and west to understand each otherís perspective.


Mr. Tasneem Noorani said the country is facing hostile circumstances and the Government has to make laws to protect its people. The PPO 2014 appears to be an attempt to provide both greater powers and legal cover to Armed Forces. He said that the law should be supported in principle with some amendments. Most of the provisions in the law are meant to protect judges and witnesses.


The Forum was attended by Parliamentarians, Academia, Lawyers, members of civil society and media in large numbers.