Pak SC Chief Justice constitutes larger bench to define ‘terrorism’
Pakistan will soon have a definition to the word ‘terrorism’.
This was decided by Supreme Court Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa on Wednesday when he constituted a seven-member bench to determine the definition of ‘terrorism’ and the cases that fall within the category, Pakistani media reported.
The apex court’s decision comes amid intense pressure on Pakistan government to rein in terror groups like the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), which claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terror attack that killed 40 CRPF soldiers.
Pakistan has witnessed a number of major terror attacks in the past. At least 595 people, including Pakistani security officials, have been killed and 1,030 others injured in 262 terror attacks in Pakistan during 2018, the Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), an Islamabad-based independent think tank said in January. Pakistani media reported that since 1997, it is not determined that which case comes in the ambit of terrorism, Chief Justice Khosa said.
The seven-member bench headed by Chief Justice Khosa, will determine and decide the exact definition of terrorism, Dawn newspaper reported.
The definition of terrorism came under discussion while the court was hearing reviews petitions in “Sibtain versus the State” and “Fazal Bashir versus the State” cases. The accused in the both the cases were charged under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), which deals with punishment for acts of terrorism. The application of the ATA clauses also come under scrutiny last year when the Supreme Court set aside capital punishment awarded by an an anti-terrorism court to Asma Nawab and two others, mainly due to legal technicalities, in a 20-year-old case pertaining to killing of her parents and brother.
According to legal experts in Pakistan, there is no precise or widely accepted definition of the word, ‘terrorism’.
It often refers to and is applied to a variety of acts of violence that are not strictly within the ambit of terrorism, ARY News channel reported.
“To define what is terrorism leads to an intellectual struggle. The rival parties label the activities of their opponents with it,” it said.
The features of an act of terrorism include the use or threat of violence and political motivation for some specific purpose, it said.
According to the experts of international law the issue of terrorism attracted increased attention and concern in early 70s at the international level. The United Nations had struggled to provide a definition of terrorism. There are difficulties of interpretation.
In the post 9/11 period, the issue of dealing with international terrorism has become the primary objective of the international community, the report said.
According to reports, Pakistan’s political parties are expected to meet on March 28 to discuss the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) against extremists which was formulated after the 2014 terror attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar in which nearly 150 people, mostly students were killed.
Following the Pulwama terror attack, the government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan decided to implement the NAP and sought cooperation from the Opposition parties.