Human rights activist and lawyer Hina Jilani said on Wednesday that instead of eavesdropping and keeping tabs on civil politicians, the intelligence agencies should focus on curbing the rising militancy.
Speaking to journalist Rabia Mahmood on Naya Daur TV’s human rights show on Wednesday, she said that the state should pay heed to the fact that whatever you do will always come back to haunt you. “First you spread religious extremism in the country, then you introduce groups as jihadists, and basically outsource the war,” she chastised. “And now, when you’ve suddenly had a change of heart and realized that this policy no longer serves your purpose, it’s too late.”
She said that this policy to use religious sentiments to fulfill state purposes that are unknown to the general populace is a very harmful tactic, and questioned the governments that followed these policies by turning a blind eye to the agencies, and never raised their voices against them, asking why they had put the citizen’s security in peril.
Jilani also said that now, with the recent uptick of terrorism in Swat, everyone understands why the people of the tribal areas had been protesting and demanding security from the government. “What has the state done in the past many decades?” she asked, saying that the state never enhanced or tried to enhance their capacity. “They used the army, but they never upgraded civilian forces like the police,” she said.
“The intelligence agencies are excellent at political surveillance but not at militant surveillance, which is what they should be focusing on,” she said. She noted that counter-terrorism laws, even if far from perfect, exist, but are not being utilized. Instead, military tactics are used that endanger the civil population she lamented. She urged the state to use the intelligence agencies to arrest militants, and file cases against them. “Conduct open trials so that the public perception that the militants are ‘Islamic’ will be challenged,” she recommended, adding, “The reality should be clear to people that these are criminals, who have taken people’s lives.”
She also commented on the recent anti-terrorism charges against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan and said that while Imran is not the first politician to face these charges, the political victimization of opponents through anti-terrorism charges isn’t the right way to go about things, as it weakens all other genuine cases. “What’s the result? You only get disgraced and there’s no accountability,” she said, instead suggesting that the government should use normal penal codes, such as the one about intimidation to deal with opponents politically. “The incorrect use of the judicial system won’t be beneficial,” she said.