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THE CTG TRIAL
All but one amicus curiae supported the caretaker system

Helal Uddin Ahmed

The shorter version of the verdict on annulling the caretaker government (CTG) system in Bangladesh Constitution was delivered by the appellate division of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice ABM Khairul Haque on 10 May 2011. It, however, recommended continuation of the system for another two elections. But the longer version was submitted around one and a half years later with marked differences in content, quite unprecedented in the history of Bangladesh.
The most notable feature of the trial was that seven out of eight Amici Curiae in the trial were in favour of the CTG’s continuation. Of them, Dr. Kamal Hossain, TH Khan, Mahmudul Islam, M Amirul Islam and Rokanuddin Mahmud lent straightforward support to the caretaker system, but Rafiqul Huq and M Zahir suggested revisions or amendments of the system. Even Attorney General Mahbubey Alam had supported it and predicted after the verdict that chaos and unrest would erupt in the country if the next two parliamentary elections were not held under a caretaker government (The Daily Star, 11 May 2011). Only Ajmalul Hossain, who was the last among the amici curiae to place arguments and reportedly a kin of the then chief justice, took a stand against the CTG system. The latter’s arguments were used in the final verdict in overturning the High Court decision that had earlier upheld the CTG system.
Three Supreme Court lawyers, namely Ruhul Quddus (now a High Court Judge), Abdul Mannan Khan and Salim Ullah (deceased), had filed a writ petition on 5 January 2000 challenging the legality of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution under which the caretaker government system was introduced. A special High Court Bench of Justice Md. Joynul Abedin, Justice Md. Awlad Ali and Justice Mirza Hussain Haider in a verdict delivered on 4 August 2004 declared the 13th amendment to the Constitution as lawful. The HC verdict was delivered with the observation: ‘If democracy is accepted as a basic structure of the Constitution’, the thirteenth amendment did not destroy the basic structure. The petitioners later filed appeal against the judgement of the High Court Division in 2005.
The following paragraphs highlight the opinions expressed by the eight amici curiae as well as the Attorney General during the caretaker trial, which clearly illustrated the logic for the continuation of the system.
Dr. Kamal Hossain: The system of non-party caretaker government was introduced through the 13th constitutional amendment in 1996 following a mass movement. It had to be introduced as neither the civil society nor the political parties outside the government thought that free, fair and neutral polls could be held under a political government. If there were flaws in the caretaker government system, it could be removed through consultations, but the apex court should not question the legality of the system considering the ‘interest of the people’. As three parliamentary elections had been held under caretaker governments since the Sixth Parliament had introduced the system, the question of constitutional continuity was involved. Neither the Election Commission nor the court had ever questioned the legality of the sixth parliamentary election.
The caretaker system was introduced to discourage power grabbers, who tended to think that they would remain in power for eternity and wanted to cling to power till eternity by manipulating elections. It is pertinent to recall in what context and circumstances the Sixth Parliament had to introduce ‘non-party caretaker government system’ by amending the Constitution for holding free, fair and impartial elections, as political parties were then waging a mass movement to pull down the government elected on 15 February 1996.
The caretaker government system should continue in the interest of holding free and fair elections as well as upholding democracy in the country. Continuation of democracy is the basic pillar of the Constitution, so it should be protected through the Constitutional process. Supreme Court is the guardian of the Constitution, and it is not the responsibility of the Supreme Court to protect any political party’s interests, as Article 70 of the Constitution protects the interests of political parties.
Justice T H Khan: The 13th amendment which introduced the caretaker government system had in no way destroyed the spirit of the Constitution; rather it only strengthened democracy. Article 141A of the Constitution introduced through the second amendment in 1973 provided for proclamation of emergency, which threatened democracy by suspending fundamental rights. If emergency did not destroy democracy, non-party caretaker government system also cannot destroy democracy. To ensure undiluted democracy, Bangladesh must continue with the system of non-party caretaker government at the time of election. It is an imperative of the time for the sake of democracy.
Mahmudul Islam: The caretaker government system is needed to sustain democracy in the country. A fair and acceptable election is possible only under a caretaker government. The interim regime was introduced to get over a grave political crisis in Bangladesh over election issues. Nullifying a law would not be a proper redress for its misuse or shortcomings. The system is necessary if we consider the present political reality, leaders and our character. Elections like that of Magura are no good for democracy.
M Amirul Islam: Caretaker government system is necessary for holding free, fair, impartial and transparent elections. The caretaker government was inevitable after the controversial Magura election and the February 1996 national election. It would have been controversial if anybody had been deprived of their voting rights. This system of interim government came through people’s movement and so “the system was not paradoxical to democracy”.
Rafiqul Huq: As an alternative to the existing caretaker government system, a panel of 10 members of parliament could be nominated by the treasury and opposition benches before the House was dissolved. The panel would submit a list of names to another panel of three former chief justices to select the chief of the caretaker government and its other nine advisers. The panel of former chief justices would nominate the names of the caretaker government chief, who would run the country till the elections. Power of the Election Commission should also be strengthened for holding the parliamentary polls in a free and fair manner. The national elections should be held on four different days in four regions of Bangladesh to keep the law and order situation under control, so that no chaos can occur during the polls. The votes cast can be counted simultaneously on completion of elections in all four regions.
M Zahir: The political parties with representatives in parliament should nominate a ten-member of panel of MPs before the parliament dissolves. The ten-member panel led by the President would run the country for 30 days and the parliamentary election would be held within this period under a strong Election Commission. The interim government should not take policy-making decisions and should perform routine works only.
Rokan Uddin Mahmud: Caretaker government had emerged and gained ground because there was no better alternative to it. The state belonged to the people and the caretaker government system was introduced in 1996 through their will. The caretaker government system could not be called unconstitutional as it did not undermine the independence of the judiciary since the chief justice did not return to the judiciary after leading the caretaker government. Therefore, the system should be there until a better alternative was found. In elections held under political governments in the past, none but the ruling parties had won.
Massive violence will occur during the next general election if the caretaker government is done away with, as it will create immense political tensions. If the 13th amendment is annulled, people would engage in clashes on the streets and there would be murders over the parliamentary election. The system had emerged and gained ground because there was no better alternative to it.
Ajmalul Hossain: The caretaker government system was not constitutionally legal and acceptable as democracy was the fundamental structure of the state. Only parliament had the authority to take decisions about the caretaker government system, so remedy could not be sought before any court; but the court could give observations on the issue. The caretaker system was necessary in the early days of democracy back in 1996, but not now. It was more important to see if the matter was constitutional or not, and if it was legitimate. Non-elected persons holding office during the caretaker government tenure was contrary to the fundamentals of the Constitution. They must be elected “no matter if they are in power for three months or three days”. If the trend continued, there would be aspirations among the judges for that position, which would compromise their impartiality. Image of the entire judiciary would be tarnished because of them. The CTG system was passed in parliament in a hurry.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam: The system of caretaker government should be retained and the Supreme Court should uphold the High Court verdict which backed justifications for the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution. It was not true that democratic practice by unelected persons would damage the spirit of democracy. If there was any deficiency in the system, the parliament could reform it.
(Dr. Helal Uddin Ahmed PhD is a former Editor of Bangladesh Quarterly. Email: hahmed1960@gmail.com)

Comment

Helal Uddin Ahmed

The shorter version of the verdict on annulling the caretaker government (CTG) system in Bangladesh Constitution was delivered by the appellate division of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice ABM Khairul Haque on 10 May 2011. It, however, recommended continuation of the system for another two elections. But the longer version was submitted around one and a half years later with marked differences in content, quite unprecedented in the history of Bangladesh.
The most notable feature of the trial was that seven out of eight Amici Curiae in the trial were in favour of the CTG’s continuation. Of them, Dr. Kamal Hossain, TH Khan, Mahmudul Islam, M Amirul Islam and Rokanuddin Mahmud lent straightforward support to the caretaker system, but Rafiqul Huq and M Zahir suggested revisions or amendments of the system. Even Attorney General Mahbubey Alam had supported it and predicted after the verdict that chaos and unrest would erupt in the country if the next two parliamentary elections were not held under a caretaker government (The Daily Star, 11 May 2011). Only Ajmalul Hossain, who was the last among the amici curiae to place arguments and reportedly a kin of the then chief justice, took a stand against the CTG system. The latter’s arguments were used in the final verdict in overturning the High Court decision that had earlier upheld the CTG system.
Three Supreme Court lawyers, namely Ruhul Quddus (now a High Court Judge), Abdul Mannan Khan and Salim Ullah (deceased), had filed a writ petition on 5 January 2000 challenging the legality of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution under which the caretaker government system was introduced. A special High Court Bench of Justice Md. Joynul Abedin, Justice Md. Awlad Ali and Justice Mirza Hussain Haider in a verdict delivered on 4 August 2004 declared the 13th amendment to the Constitution as lawful. The HC verdict was delivered with the observation: ‘If democracy is accepted as a basic structure of the Constitution’, the thirteenth amendment did not destroy the basic structure. The petitioners later filed appeal against the judgement of the High Court Division in 2005.
The following paragraphs highlight the opinions expressed by the eight amici curiae as well as the Attorney General during the caretaker trial, which clearly illustrated the logic for the continuation of the system.
Dr. Kamal Hossain: The system of non-party caretaker government was introduced through the 13th constitutional amendment in 1996 following a mass movement. It had to be introduced as neither the civil society nor the political parties outside the government thought that free, fair and neutral polls could be held under a political government. If there were flaws in the caretaker government system, it could be removed through consultations, but the apex court should not question the legality of the system considering the ‘interest of the people’. As three parliamentary elections had been held under caretaker governments since the Sixth Parliament had introduced the system, the question of constitutional continuity was involved. Neither the Election Commission nor the court had ever questioned the legality of the sixth parliamentary election.
The caretaker system was introduced to discourage power grabbers, who tended to think that they would remain in power for eternity and wanted to cling to power till eternity by manipulating elections. It is pertinent to recall in what context and circumstances the Sixth Parliament had to introduce ‘non-party caretaker government system’ by amending the Constitution for holding free, fair and impartial elections, as political parties were then waging a mass movement to pull down the government elected on 15 February 1996.
The caretaker government system should continue in the interest of holding free and fair elections as well as upholding democracy in the country. Continuation of democracy is the basic pillar of the Constitution, so it should be protected through the Constitutional process. Supreme Court is the guardian of the Constitution, and it is not the responsibility of the Supreme Court to protect any political party’s interests, as Article 70 of the Constitution protects the interests of political parties.
Justice T H Khan: The 13th amendment which introduced the caretaker government system had in no way destroyed the spirit of the Constitution; rather it only strengthened democracy. Article 141A of the Constitution introduced through the second amendment in 1973 provided for proclamation of emergency, which threatened democracy by suspending fundamental rights. If emergency did not destroy democracy, non-party caretaker government system also cannot destroy democracy. To ensure undiluted democracy, Bangladesh must continue with the system of non-party caretaker government at the time of election. It is an imperative of the time for the sake of democracy.
Mahmudul Islam: The caretaker government system is needed to sustain democracy in the country. A fair and acceptable election is possible only under a caretaker government. The interim regime was introduced to get over a grave political crisis in Bangladesh over election issues. Nullifying a law would not be a proper redress for its misuse or shortcomings. The system is necessary if we consider the present political reality, leaders and our character. Elections like that of Magura are no good for democracy.
M Amirul Islam: Caretaker government system is necessary for holding free, fair, impartial and transparent elections. The caretaker government was inevitable after the controversial Magura election and the February 1996 national election. It would have been controversial if anybody had been deprived of their voting rights. This system of interim government came through people’s movement and so “the system was not paradoxical to democracy”.
Rafiqul Huq: As an alternative to the existing caretaker government system, a panel of 10 members of parliament could be nominated by the treasury and opposition benches before the House was dissolved. The panel would submit a list of names to another panel of three former chief justices to select the chief of the caretaker government and its other nine advisers. The panel of former chief justices would nominate the names of the caretaker government chief, who would run the country till the elections. Power of the Election Commission should also be strengthened for holding the parliamentary polls in a free and fair manner. The national elections should be held on four different days in four regions of Bangladesh to keep the law and order situation under control, so that no chaos can occur during the polls. The votes cast can be counted simultaneously on completion of elections in all four regions.
M Zahir: The political parties with representatives in parliament should nominate a ten-member of panel of MPs before the parliament dissolves. The ten-member panel led by the President would run the country for 30 days and the parliamentary election would be held within this period under a strong Election Commission. The interim government should not take policy-making decisions and should perform routine works only.
Rokan Uddin Mahmud: Caretaker government had emerged and gained ground because there was no better alternative to it. The state belonged to the people and the caretaker government system was introduced in 1996 through their will. The caretaker government system could not be called unconstitutional as it did not undermine the independence of the judiciary since the chief justice did not return to the judiciary after leading the caretaker government. Therefore, the system should be there until a better alternative was found. In elections held under political governments in the past, none but the ruling parties had won.
Massive violence will occur during the next general election if the caretaker government is done away with, as it will create immense political tensions. If the 13th amendment is annulled, people would engage in clashes on the streets and there would be murders over the parliamentary election. The system had emerged and gained ground because there was no better alternative to it.
Ajmalul Hossain: The caretaker government system was not constitutionally legal and acceptable as democracy was the fundamental structure of the state. Only parliament had the authority to take decisions about the caretaker government system, so remedy could not be sought before any court; but the court could give observations on the issue. The caretaker system was necessary in the early days of democracy back in 1996, but not now. It was more important to see if the matter was constitutional or not, and if it was legitimate. Non-elected persons holding office during the caretaker government tenure was contrary to the fundamentals of the Constitution. They must be elected “no matter if they are in power for three months or three days”. If the trend continued, there would be aspirations among the judges for that position, which would compromise their impartiality. Image of the entire judiciary would be tarnished because of them. The CTG system was passed in parliament in a hurry.
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam: The system of caretaker government should be retained and the Supreme Court should uphold the High Court verdict which backed justifications for the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution. It was not true that democratic practice by unelected persons would damage the spirit of democracy. If there was any deficiency in the system, the parliament could reform it.
(Dr. Helal Uddin Ahmed PhD is a former Editor of Bangladesh Quarterly. Email: hahmed1960@gmail.com)


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Comments: I thank the eminent writer for highlighting the CTG issue and bringing it forward before the nation at the right time when our national poll is on the offing.But the the columnist refrained from making any comment of his own.After the short verdict can a judge after one and a half year of his retirement sign the full and distorted verdict when he is stripped of all power and position? Can this be legal and acceptable in the eyes of any law? Can this be not challenged ? Moreover when 7 out of 8 Amicio Curiae spoke in favour how come the then C.J. rejected their opinion and accepted his own kin's opinion. Wasn't it against the norm of justice? Over and above JUstice Haque became a controversial for allegedly taking bribe and availing a position of benefit after his retirement for obliging the P.M. Does he know and have any remorse for his actions of ruining our democracy and betraying the whole nation? The same P.M. who fought viciously for the introduction of CTG and now scrapping it. If we look at the timelines it becomes clear that it was culminated through a conspiracy and with an ulterior motive of an individual for grabbing the power but at the cost of the greater national interest. Our democracy slowly was taking root but it was nipped in the bud in self interest. Advocate A. HUssain emphasised on elected people as if other than them rest have no worth. To be a parliamentarian one needs no qualification and we have been watching their language worse than rickshaw pullers unlike Government of PAKISTAN where one needs to have a qualification to be an M.P. THe other 7 learned lawyers spoke in golden words in favour of the CTG and its amendments. Of course we need reforms like our PRESIDENT of the country should a nominated one through consensus and we need a deputy speaker from the opposition party etc.However what I have been noticing that we have failed to appreciate Begum ZIA for her efforts and respect for national interest in this context. In 2004 she tolerated so many days of HARTALS and all other ferocious violence. She held the 1996 election only to legislate CTG and soon after that honourably resigned unlike the incumbent P.M. who held on to power through that controversial so called no poll and broke her promise to the nation as usual. This is the difference,. So let us call spade a spade.ALLAH save the nation .
Commented by : A. Bashar U.K.



Social leaders face target killing in Columbia

Special Correspondent

Murders and threats against social leaders and human rights defenders, especially in the rural areas of Colombia, have increased despite the peace agreement signed two years ago.
In the forum “Balance of peace agreements, challenges and opportunities with other insurgencies,” which was held in Madrid, Spain, Colombian left-wing Senator Alberto Castilla denounced “the judicialization and the crimes” that are being committed against social leaders of the Latin American country.
“We were confident that we would see a decrease in the murder rate but it has not happened,” the parliamentarian lamented, adding that 173 social leaders have been killed in 2017, especially in the rural areas of the departments of Nariño, Antioquia and Santander.
Colombia signed, more than two years ago, a peace agreement to end a 50-year-old armed conflict that had left some 260,000 people dead. Since then, however, there has been a worsening of the situation for community leaders who defend their territory or rights.
“While it is true that there is a decrease in the direct victims of the armed conflict, the persecution of community leaders has increased,” Castilla emphasized, before demanding that the state launch investigations to establish who the responsible parties are.
“This Friday, Dec. 7 we will light a little candle for peace and the implementation of the Peace Agreement in all the cities of Colombia.”
According to the senator, the effective implementation of the peace process would not seem to be a concern of Colombia’s right-wing President Ivan Duque, who was sworn into office in Aug. 2018.
“Peace is not only the implementation of agreements signed with the FARC, but also [peace implies] guarantees and conditions for society.”
There are “quite a few breaches,” Castilla stated, regarding the peace agreement.
“In rural areas where the absence of the State is coupled with a large presence of organized and illegal armed groups, human rights defenders are an easy target for those who see in them and their agenda an obstacle to their interests,” Michel Forst, a United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders - who visited Colombia earlier this week - said.

Awa Community Mourns Loss of Two Social Leaders
Meanwhile, police continue to investigate the murder of a pair of community leaders identified as Hector Ramiro Garcia and his son, Arturo Garcia, the local council’s recently elected governor, who were found dead Sunday.
The details leading up to their deaths have not been released, however, an additional four people were seriously wounded and may be helpful in solving the case.
The National Organization of Colombian Indigenous condemned the senseless violence on Twitter, writing, “#SOS: We condemn massacres perpetrated this morning against leaders of the Awa people. Hector Ramiro García (founder of CAMAWARI) and his son Arturo García were assassinated (elected yesterday as Governor of the Cabildo). There are four severely injured.”
After the suffering the loss of 13 Indigenous activists in just 10 days, the Ethnic Peace Commission joined the call for state action, writing, “We reject actions against @CamawariOficial Ricaute Nariño; In the face of massacre this morning in your community, we demand guarantees for the life of our friends leaders and territories!”
“Extermination is escalating against indigenous peoples: in 10 days 13 murders, 2 massacres, threats, attempted homicide and a victim of Mina Antiperosnas. This is the future for all the indigenous, President @IvanDuque? @ONIC_Colombia @PGN_COL @DefensoriaCol @FiscaliaCol”
The Defense Ministry released a report this weekend showing the rising rates of serious criminal activity from January to October.
The data shows that over the last year, there have been 622 new registered homicide cases. Of these, 180 were social leaders killed in impunity.
Over 400 social leaders have been murdered since the signing of the peace agreement between the Colombian armed forces and FARC but violence is rampant in Colombia’s rural areas, where drug trafficking networks and paramilitary forces retain territorial control.

Comment

Special Correspondent

Murders and threats against social leaders and human rights defenders, especially in the rural areas of Colombia, have increased despite the peace agreement signed two years ago.
In the forum “Balance of peace agreements, challenges and opportunities with other insurgencies,” which was held in Madrid, Spain, Colombian left-wing Senator Alberto Castilla denounced “the judicialization and the crimes” that are being committed against social leaders of the Latin American country.
“We were confident that we would see a decrease in the murder rate but it has not happened,” the parliamentarian lamented, adding that 173 social leaders have been killed in 2017, especially in the rural areas of the departments of Nariño, Antioquia and Santander.
Colombia signed, more than two years ago, a peace agreement to end a 50-year-old armed conflict that had left some 260,000 people dead. Since then, however, there has been a worsening of the situation for community leaders who defend their territory or rights.
“While it is true that there is a decrease in the direct victims of the armed conflict, the persecution of community leaders has increased,” Castilla emphasized, before demanding that the state launch investigations to establish who the responsible parties are.
“This Friday, Dec. 7 we will light a little candle for peace and the implementation of the Peace Agreement in all the cities of Colombia.”
According to the senator, the effective implementation of the peace process would not seem to be a concern of Colombia’s right-wing President Ivan Duque, who was sworn into office in Aug. 2018.
“Peace is not only the implementation of agreements signed with the FARC, but also [peace implies] guarantees and conditions for society.”
There are “quite a few breaches,” Castilla stated, regarding the peace agreement.
“In rural areas where the absence of the State is coupled with a large presence of organized and illegal armed groups, human rights defenders are an easy target for those who see in them and their agenda an obstacle to their interests,” Michel Forst, a United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders - who visited Colombia earlier this week - said.

Awa Community Mourns Loss of Two Social Leaders
Meanwhile, police continue to investigate the murder of a pair of community leaders identified as Hector Ramiro Garcia and his son, Arturo Garcia, the local council’s recently elected governor, who were found dead Sunday.
The details leading up to their deaths have not been released, however, an additional four people were seriously wounded and may be helpful in solving the case.
The National Organization of Colombian Indigenous condemned the senseless violence on Twitter, writing, “#SOS: We condemn massacres perpetrated this morning against leaders of the Awa people. Hector Ramiro García (founder of CAMAWARI) and his son Arturo García were assassinated (elected yesterday as Governor of the Cabildo). There are four severely injured.”
After the suffering the loss of 13 Indigenous activists in just 10 days, the Ethnic Peace Commission joined the call for state action, writing, “We reject actions against @CamawariOficial Ricaute Nariño; In the face of massacre this morning in your community, we demand guarantees for the life of our friends leaders and territories!”
“Extermination is escalating against indigenous peoples: in 10 days 13 murders, 2 massacres, threats, attempted homicide and a victim of Mina Antiperosnas. This is the future for all the indigenous, President @IvanDuque? @ONIC_Colombia @PGN_COL @DefensoriaCol @FiscaliaCol”
The Defense Ministry released a report this weekend showing the rising rates of serious criminal activity from January to October.
The data shows that over the last year, there have been 622 new registered homicide cases. Of these, 180 were social leaders killed in impunity.
Over 400 social leaders have been murdered since the signing of the peace agreement between the Colombian armed forces and FARC but violence is rampant in Colombia’s rural areas, where drug trafficking networks and paramilitary forces retain territorial control.


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Cyberterrorism and its securitization in Pakistan

Ahyousha Khan

One of the biggest threat of 21st century is terrorism, all states whether developing or underdeveloped are equally getting affected by it. The alarming new component of terrorism is its spread in cyber space. Cyber space is a virtual world where all essential sectors of national life of state have presence and thus, it makes it an attractive target for terrorist groups which are driven by political agenda. The common difficulty in identification of terrorist is that they blend in with general population and are thus harder to identify. This benefit of anonymity is also present in cyber space that terrorist are utilizing all over the world to spread their ideology, carry out their recruitment process and to generate funding.
In this era of globalization cyber space allows a person sitting in one end of the world to carry out action in other part of the world without even being identified. All person might need to carry out such an action is access to information technology and knowhow. Owning to the fact that information technology is easily accessible and its knowhow is not some secret, makes it excellent medium for state and non-state actors to carry out malicious activities against other states and non-states actors. Threat of terrorism or cyber terrorism is from which no country is safe, even most secure countries with world largest armies. However, countries such as Pakistan which are unfortunate to be located in a region that is prone to all types of conflicts whether they are traditional or non-traditional; are more exposed to threats like cyber terrorism. According to scholars cyber terrorism could be defined as “Cyber terrorism is socially or politically illegal attack on computers, network systems and stored information for political gains”. Although, there are no mass events of cyber terrorism reported in Pakistan but according to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, Pakistan is the second most spied on country and NSA has intercepted more than 13.5 billion pieces of information from Pakistan. But, if one talks about cyber terrorism specifically in Pakistan, many terrorist organizations are running their recruitment pages and financial set-up electronically.
These groups and their online presence is serious issue because through these pages, websites, blogs and video they spread hate, sectarianism, violence and messages to overthrow the governments. Absence of strong filters and blocking mechanisms is helping these organizations to carry on their malicious activities. Pakistan is already fighting against terrorism by conducting military operations on state level. In future when it would become harder for terrorists to launch physical activities against state they will move towards the unguarded territory of cyber space. So, it is necessary for Pakistan to nip the evil in the bud.
So far to stop the cyber terrorism different govternment in Pakistan have taken few actions but most of these actions are to regularize different crimes that are taking place in realm of cyber space. Such initiatives include Pakistan Telecommunication Reorganization Act 1996, Electronic Transaction Ordinance 2002, Payment systems and Electronic Fund Transfer Act 2007, Electronic Crime Ordinance 2007, Cyber Security Strategy Bill, Prevention of Electronic Crime Bill and National Action Plan.
However, due to lack of proper institution handling emerging threats in cyber space implementation of these legislative measures is very weak reason being the politicization of the issue of cyber security rather than its securitization. It is true that security measures taken by states in arena of cyber security fall under the grey area where they step on the human liberties but security comes with the price. To securitize Pakistani society from the evil of cyber terrorism it is necessary that strong executive measures shall be taken, separate institutions shall be made to handle all threats emerging from cyber space because one small branch under one federal investigation authority is not dynamic enough to handle threat of cyber terrorism.
[Ahyousha Khan, Research Associate at Islamabad based think-tank Strategic Vision Institute]

Comment

Ahyousha Khan

One of the biggest threat of 21st century is terrorism, all states whether developing or underdeveloped are equally getting affected by it. The alarming new component of terrorism is its spread in cyber space. Cyber space is a virtual world where all essential sectors of national life of state have presence and thus, it makes it an attractive target for terrorist groups which are driven by political agenda. The common difficulty in identification of terrorist is that they blend in with general population and are thus harder to identify. This benefit of anonymity is also present in cyber space that terrorist are utilizing all over the world to spread their ideology, carry out their recruitment process and to generate funding.
In this era of globalization cyber space allows a person sitting in one end of the world to carry out action in other part of the world without even being identified. All person might need to carry out such an action is access to information technology and knowhow. Owning to the fact that information technology is easily accessible and its knowhow is not some secret, makes it excellent medium for state and non-state actors to carry out malicious activities against other states and non-states actors. Threat of terrorism or cyber terrorism is from which no country is safe, even most secure countries with world largest armies. However, countries such as Pakistan which are unfortunate to be located in a region that is prone to all types of conflicts whether they are traditional or non-traditional; are more exposed to threats like cyber terrorism. According to scholars cyber terrorism could be defined as “Cyber terrorism is socially or politically illegal attack on computers, network systems and stored information for political gains”. Although, there are no mass events of cyber terrorism reported in Pakistan but according to former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, Pakistan is the second most spied on country and NSA has intercepted more than 13.5 billion pieces of information from Pakistan. But, if one talks about cyber terrorism specifically in Pakistan, many terrorist organizations are running their recruitment pages and financial set-up electronically.
These groups and their online presence is serious issue because through these pages, websites, blogs and video they spread hate, sectarianism, violence and messages to overthrow the governments. Absence of strong filters and blocking mechanisms is helping these organizations to carry on their malicious activities. Pakistan is already fighting against terrorism by conducting military operations on state level. In future when it would become harder for terrorists to launch physical activities against state they will move towards the unguarded territory of cyber space. So, it is necessary for Pakistan to nip the evil in the bud.
So far to stop the cyber terrorism different govternment in Pakistan have taken few actions but most of these actions are to regularize different crimes that are taking place in realm of cyber space. Such initiatives include Pakistan Telecommunication Reorganization Act 1996, Electronic Transaction Ordinance 2002, Payment systems and Electronic Fund Transfer Act 2007, Electronic Crime Ordinance 2007, Cyber Security Strategy Bill, Prevention of Electronic Crime Bill and National Action Plan.
However, due to lack of proper institution handling emerging threats in cyber space implementation of these legislative measures is very weak reason being the politicization of the issue of cyber security rather than its securitization. It is true that security measures taken by states in arena of cyber security fall under the grey area where they step on the human liberties but security comes with the price. To securitize Pakistani society from the evil of cyber terrorism it is necessary that strong executive measures shall be taken, separate institutions shall be made to handle all threats emerging from cyber space because one small branch under one federal investigation authority is not dynamic enough to handle threat of cyber terrorism.
[Ahyousha Khan, Research Associate at Islamabad based think-tank Strategic Vision Institute]


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