In the legal systems of the world pardons are a rare and exceptional instance – presidential pardons are even more so. Commuting the sentence of a person who has gone through the due process of the law, and has been found guilty without reasonable doubt, requires special circumstances; after all why forgive someone when countless others are being punished for the same crime.

However, the Sindh government seems to require no reason to ask for pardons, as it has sent a petition to the President to use his powers under Article 45 of the Constitution to pardon the Rangers personnel who were held guilty of the cold blood murder of a student in Karachi in 2011.

The fact that law enforcement agencies often do not understand the intricacies of human rights neither do they want to know what human rights are, have resulted in a violation of fundamental rights of many people. If the convicted Rangers personnel are set free, it will be the wrong precedent. This pardon will encourage law enforcement agencies to act with impunity. If the President of Pakistan invokes his power to pardon the convicts his act will convince people that two modes of justice prevail in the country. One is for weak and the other for the powerful ones. The latter ones can get away with their actions no matter how heinous they are.

The anti-terrorist court convicted the security personnel under section 302 of Pakistan Penal Code and there is nothing more to say in that regard. There should be no if and buts to justify the brutality of the security personnel in the present case. There is no reason to set the Rangers officials free for their action. There is no legal ground on which the penalty of the court can be set aside. Neither any mitigating circumstances nor any flaws in prosecutions are found in their trial. Nor should they be set free on humanitarian grounds. In fact, case could be made for exemplary punishment given the cruel nature of the murder.

To put it bluntly, the state will do great harm to the legal system of the country by letting the paramilitary forces be treated with a different standard. It is vital for establishing the rule of law that the sentences awarded by the court to the members of Rangers are carried out. If the President of Pakistan sets aside the verdict of the court using his discretionary power under Article 45 of the Constitution, the perception that law enforcement agencies, especially the ones associated with the army cannot be held liable for their actions will strengthen in the society.