LAHORE - Terrorism cannot be eliminated until the effective laws are made and implemented in letter and spirit as the temporarily established military courts or Protection of Pakistan Act courts cannot serve the purpose in a limited time period, official sources said yesterday.

The Quetta carnage in which over 70 people were killed, primarily lawyers, badly exposed the government’s failure in keeping the law and order in the country’s biggest province which has been hit by multiple terror strikes in recent years.

Also, the dysfunction of otherwise effective Protection of Pakistan Act, 2014, under which PoPA Courts were established two years ago, raises serious question over the performance of government. Similarly, the military courts, which were established under 21st Constitutional Amendment, would end up just in next five months.

On Jan 5, 2015, the Parliament adopted the 21st Constitutional Amendment Bill and the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill, 2015 unopposed after 247 Members of National Assembly along with the Senate voted in favour of the laws that aimed to set up constitutionally protected military courts to try civilian terrorism suspects.

Official sources told The Nation that 50 cases were still lying pending with three PoPA courts of Punjab but the Act under which these courts were established became infructuous in July this year.

As many as 69 cases of terrorism were filed in all three PoPA courts of Punjab; of which six were decided while 15 to 20 are at last stage of prosecution.

Sources said that it was satisfactory performance of the POPA courts that these courts decided six cases in just six months.

The POPA courts were established in 2014 but they were not provided proper means and staff besides other general facilities.

According to the sources, these courts were given only six months period to function and then their relevant law became infructuous. Some 69 cases of terrorism were referred to POPA courts and no case is pending for investigation. In fact, it is the law which became infructuous.

“It is failure of the government which did not extend the law under which POPA courts were working,” said an official of Punjab Prosecution department who wished not to be named. He told The Nation that six cases of anti-terrorism courts were referred to Military courts and all of these cases were decided.

The official data shows that 90 percent conviction was made. “As far as the execution of these cases is concerned, it is the responsibility of the government, not of the courts.

“The purpose to curb terrorism through deterrent punishment failed to serve as the time stipulated for Protection of Pakistan Courts was not extended by the government,” the sources added.

Lawyers, although satisfied with the performance of POPA courts, have also called upon the government to extend their period. They suggest the military courts should be made permanently to deal with the cases of terrorism.

Authorities, despite hundreds of such deadly attacks in the country in last many years, could not evolve any effective strategy, the lawyers said while believing the lack of government’s interest in extending the Protection of Pakistan Act, 2014, as the main reason behind the unabated terrorism.

“The State yet needs to maintain its writ which is possible only through the implementation of effective laws in letter and spirit to curb the terrorism in the country,” said Rana Zia Abdul Rehman, President, Lahore High Court Bar Association.

Talking to The Nation, he blamed the investigation agencies for terrorism as the courts performed their duties. “11 cases were referred to POPA courts and not more, but most of them were decided,” Rehman said.

“The law enforcement agencies do not refer cases to the courts because they do not work. It is time that they should realise their duties,” the LHCBA president added.

Irfan Arif Sheikh, former LHCBA vice-president, said that Pakistan Penal Code was sufficient to deal with terrorists. “What needed is the writ of state,” he told The Nation while criticising the lawmakers for not making the laws in letter and spirit. “Legislators make weak laws to save their own skin,” Sheikh said and added that terrorists and other culprits remain safe due to poor and weak laws made by the politicians ‘who served their evil purposes’.

“This is a country where lodging an FIR is not an easy task and when an FIR is registered the police blackmail the complainant rather than investigating the criminals,” he added. He further stressed the need to work collectively and fight against terrorism.