Islamabad: Noting that "basic civil liberties need to be protected", a leading Pakistani daily has sought a fresh look at the Pakistan Army Act.
An editorial in Dawn on Monday said that striking a balance between the need to punish wrongdoing and the rights of those accused of wrongdoing is a delicate task the world over.
"But sometimes it becomes patently obvious that an unwelcome imbalance has resulted and that is surely the case when it comes to the Pakistan Army Act, 1952.”
"From the state having the right to terminate the services of an officer or jawan and there being no recourse to judicial review, to allowing punishments to be enhanced at the appellate stage, to being able to deny the documents of the trial proceedings of a military court to the accused, the denial of fair and legitimate rights and due process to those tried or punished under the Army Act is hard to defend," it said.
It said that the major distortions have come under military dispensations, making "the case stronger for a thorough review of the Act to bring it in like with the spirit of the Constitution and international norms".
The editorial called for "more judicial scrutiny, not less" when the armed forces have the ability to proceed against civilians under laws governing the armed forces.
Being a country racked by terrorist violence and one where "militants are known to have infiltrated the armed forces", it said: "The law must be able to adequately deal with those seeking to undermine and overthrow the state."
"But basic civil liberties also need to be protected. The long journey to becoming a country where the rule of law has primacy will never be complete until regressive measures are expunged from the statute books," it added.