Yesterday the Peshawar High Court released on bail the three sons of Sufi Mohammed, the leader of the pro-Taliban Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammed (TNSM), or the Movement for the Enforcement of Mohammed’s Law in Swat and Dir. Sufi engineered the Malakand Accord, which turned large tracts of Pakistan’s northwest over the the Taliban. The release of Sufi’s sons highlights a major problem with Pakistan’s police and the courts.
Atlas Khan, the counsel for the petitioners, contended that the detainees were sons of Sufi Mohammad, but they are innocent and their arrest on the order of the district coordination officer (DCO), Peshawar, was illegal. He argued that the DCO had issued a stereotyped order lacking any solid grounds for the arrest of the petitioners and there was no threat to public order from the petitioners.
Additional advocate general Fazlur Rehman, however, argued that the detainees were part of a defunct organisation and they were threat to peace. Justice Ejaz Afzal had asked representatives of the DCO and home department to produce any material if they had any against Sufi Mohammad’s sons, but they had failed to do so.
But no worries, the police just re-arrested Sufi’s sons.
In Pakistan, being a member of a banned terror group, the TNSM, which is responsible for one of the largest internal crises in Pakistan’s history, isn’t enough to keep you in jail. And the police make no effort to gather evidence of terrorist activities so as to keep members of the banned group in jail. Or, if the intelligence agencies have information, it isn’t being passed to the police and prosecutors.
Hafiz Saeed, the leader of the Lashkar-e-Taiba and its front group Jamaat-ud-Dawa, was freed from house arrest under similar circumstances. There is copious evidence of Saeed’s involvement in terrorist activities, just as there likely is enough evidence against Sufi’s sons. Whether by incompetence or design, no case is being made to keep some of the country’s most dangerous terrorists in jail.