Yesterday’s post focused on the death of an eminent figure in the fight against terrorism in Pakistan. While I certainly stand by my commentary from yesterday, an article in the Financial Times today did give me pause. In his post, acclaimed Pakistani expert Ahmed Rashid details the draconian policies that the government of Pakistan has undertaken to stem the rise of extremism. From arbitrary arrests, to the restoration of capital punishment, the article reads more like a handbook for dictatorship rather than the policies of a democratic state.
Yet are we really so quick to cast the first stone? America certainly has a tenuous record with human rights abuses in the ill-defined “war on terror.” Similarly, law’s passed after the Charlie Hebdo massacres in France contain very serious potentials for abuse. Given the scope of the terrorism problem in Pakistan, can the government really be blamed for undertaking the policies necessary to keep their people safe?
Perhaps it is not that clear cut. Indeed I think the true answer lies somewhere in between. While the idealist in me would love to call for judicial reform in Pakistan to enable the fair and free trials of terror suspects, the reality is such that it is unfeasible. Meanwhile, terrorists do not apply the same discernment when choosing their victims.
I’m afraid I don’t have the answer to this question. While, in principal, I think sacrificing fundamental freedoms to for security is wrong, the magnitude of the terrorist problem in Pakistan is so severe that draconian measures could make sense. If there were bombings everyday on the streets of Paris, London, Berlin, or New York, there is no doubt that policy makers would take action.
In the final analysis, I think this article is a good way to spark reflection on this important philosophical question. Maybe this question should be properly considered in a longer post 😉 … stay tuned!