ISLAMABAD – Decolonising the law is the most urgent imperative in Pakistan today. In the contemporary period the parliament has appeared unable or unwilling to challenge some of the most anti-people statutes, jurors said at a seminar here on Thursday.
Representatives of numerous working class organizations and movements as well as political activist, renowned writer and critic Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa was also present on the occasion.
In the introductory presentation Aasim Sajjad said that Rule of Law is increasingly becoming a hollow slogan given that ordinary Pakistanis are being victimized in the name of the law all over the country. Ruling classes employ colonial laws such as the Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) and Land Acquisition Act to suppress dissent and disenfranchise the poor of their livelihoods, while new laws such as the Anti-Terrorist Act were being used with reckless abandon against political activist, trade unionist and even students who are struggling for the basic rights.
Speakers stressed upon the parliament to undo the colonial legal structure and the mainstream parties to discontinue the use of repressive laws against opponents.
Testimonies were then offered by numerous individuals, including those spoke on behalf of the people of their respective areas. Some of the testimonies were from Gilgit Baldistan, Chiniot, and power loom workers in Faisalabad and from Balochistan as well.
The members of the jury pointed out that there is indeed a big gap between what the media and judiciary are currently touting as the rule of law and the reality of legal institutions on the ground.
They further added that even when the law does target the rich and powerful it is used selectively to exempt segments of elite. They asserted that the neighbouring countries also maintain colonial era law to suppress basic freedom but they concurred that the Pakistani case is arguable more acute than others because the legislature has historically been emaciated.