With its present policies, Pakistan is on its way to becoming a “cyber leper”. The speakers also agreed that cyber security is a matter of national security.
Despite being plagued by dictatorship and corruption, Pakistan does possess the ability to make advances, even leaps, in transparent and effective lawmaking. But as the recent conundrum disclosed by the contentious Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2015 (“the Act”) so ably demonstrates, even under the guise of democracy, Pakistan seems to be sleepwalking into rather dangerous territory. Described as quite draconian, controversial and retrograde when juxtaposed with the panoply of rights guaranteed by fundamental rights under Articles 9 to 28 of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973, the Act has been almost universally denounced. In a joint talk yesterday by Ammar Jaffri (formerly of the FIA) and Barrister Zahid Jamil, we learned that our country is doing poorly in writing robust legislation that targets root problems but does not compromise on individual rights. The basic flaw in the present approach to cyber crime in Pakistan appears to be that the wrong ministry is dealing with this important area of the law.
Rather than the ministry of interior, the task of prevention of electronic crime is erroneously allocated to the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication. For example, in the UK, the country from which we inherited such a rich legal and institutional framework, the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill is moved on the Home Secretary Theresa May’s initiative. The Act introduces a series of new provisions that pose a grave risk to freedom of expression and privacy in Pakistan. It has been condemned in international circles for expanding surveillance Continue reading
The unprecedented rise of terrorism in recent years has sent shock waves of horror all across the world. Our own country is badly affected by this malaise and we would like to extend our commiserations to the people of France in relation to the terrible tragedy that occurred in Paris. Our hearts are with the French – who have always stood with the people and the government of Pakistan by helping us in the fight against terrorism and extremism – and we would like to express solidarity with the families of the victims of the massacre. Nothing justifies such insanity. As a developing nation we are all too aware that a free press is the lifeblood of democracy. In our own country, the murder of 148 innocents, including 132 children, by the Taliban in the Army Public School in Peshawar on 16 December 2014 was a deeply shocking event. It really was the last straw.
It has been reported that the attack on the school was an act of revenge which aimed to “get even” for the Nobel Peace Prize jointly awarded to Malala Yousafzai. Consequently, measures to tackle the menace of terrorism have been taken in the form of the Constitution (Twenty-First Amendment) Act 2015 ( or “the amendment”) which was speedily passed by the National Assembly and Senate on 6 January 2015 and presidential assent was given the following day. Showing solidarity across the border in neighbouring India, legendary Indian actor Dilip Kumar, who was born in Peshawar, said that “[t]he massacre has wounded me beyond words. My heart longs to reach out to the parents who lost their sons and daughters in the worst crime any country has witnessed in recent years.” Continue reading
If justice perishes, human life on earth has lost its meaning – Immanuel Kant
Once crime was as solitary as a cry of protest; now it is as universal as science. Yesterday it was put on trial; today it determines the law – Albert Camus
The year 1984 remains India’s Orwellian year par excellence.
Why? Because it is the defining moment at which the language of public life became loaded with the requirement of deceit. The gap between official and political utterances and the evidence of our eyes and ears became an unbridgeable chasm; and even the thin pretension that state institutions and the Government of India existed to uphold the law of the land and the security of citizens was dropped into a furnace and evaporated into thin air. There is nothing more terrifying than the sensation that truth itself has ceased to exist, that silence is all that is left to us because no one is listening, or none may be trusted. That was what I, and many of my friends and fellow citizens, felt in those three days in late 1984 – and indeed in the months and years that followed. Continue reading
Pakistan’s laws are capable of punishing criminals. Yet, outrageously, innocents are punished and criminals walk free. Acid throwing, or vitriolage – which works almost exclusively against women and is generally committed by jealous lovers, close family members or enraged husbands – is a seriously horrific crime and its victims are scattered all over Pakistan and other parts of South Asia. In the Pakistani context, an older post on this site by barrister Afzal Jafri is available here.
Fakhra Younus was a victim of acid violence. Prior to her tragic suicide on 17 March 2012 – Fakhra jumped off the 6th floor of a building in Rome – she left a message that she was taking her own life because her victimizer could not be brought to justice. Continue reading
Acid violence is a reprehensible crime and it is prevalent all over South Asia. It involves criminals committing violence – overwhelmingly against women – by throwing acidic substances at victims. This not only causes disfiguration of victims’ faces, but also causes lasting psychological problems.
Generally, offenders deliberately commit such crimes after careful planning – the free availability of acid makes the crime easy enough to commit. Although this crime can be directed against everyone (women, children and men), it is most frequently directed against women. The effects of acid violence are tragic and include disfigurement of the face, loss of eyes and limbs, damage to organs, and subsequent infections – victims and their families also suffer psychological damage over and above such physical injuries. In addition to mental trauma, survivors also face social segregation and exclusion which further injures their confidence and acutely undermines their public and private lives in a permanent manner. It is, therefore, unfortunate that in Pakistan – until now – there was no express legislative measure which selectively combatted the menace of acid violence. Continue reading