LAHORE– Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jilani of the Supreme Court of Pakistan said on Friday that extremists existed in every faith and political system, and these non-state actors had wreaked havoc in the name of religion and ethnicity.

Addressing the inaugural session of the two-day International Conference on ‘Peace through Law’, organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association at a local hotel, Justice Jilani said:

“We have fanatics in every creed, every faith and every political belief system. Such elements have wreaked violence, death and destruction in the name of religion, ethnicity or cult. These non-state actors have eluded law and writ of the state. The most interesting aspect of this worldwide shadow war is that both the self-appointed commanders and their terrorist troops are almost wholly civilian.”

Justice Jillani added that the world was witnessing a rare phenomenon, and that people outside the power structure, working largely on their own, could do more damage to social harmony than powerful regiments led by dictators, presidents and prime ministers. “The state has a duty to enforce law with a view to ensuring peace. Democracy does not only mean periodic elections; it is a way of life and the office of ‘citizen’ is its basic component.”

The Supreme Court judge pointed out that the comity of nations had realised over the years that war was no longer a solution to conflicts and that peace could only be achieved by adhering to the rule of law. Justice Jillani further said that the culture of peace was based on political, economic, cultural and religious peace. “Religious peace and tolerance are fundamental elements of the culture of peace.”

In the context of Pak-India relations, he said that a measure of religious intolerance had existed in human societies since long. “With the dawn of reason, enlightenment and now globalisation, it was hoped that people have become more pluralistic and tolerant than before; yet intolerance persists,” he regretted.

Justice Jilani also quoted the saying of the Quid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah: “You are free; you are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed. That has nothing to do with the business of the state. Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and your will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizen of the state.”

In the end, Justice Jillani said that for the enforcement of rule of law, the citizens should stand up and not remain silent. To defend these values, courage to speak out the truth was required, he stressed.

Addressing the conference, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Muhammad Yaseen Azad said that there was a need for building confidence between the people of India and Pakistan. He said people had been deprived of their fundamental rights in the South Asian region. However, the constitutions of both the countries protected fundamental rights of their citizens, he added.

Azad further said that law education should be made more effective. He urged the governments of the two countries to make cordial relations more helpful for their masses. He said that the region could progress only after peace between Pakistan and India.

The SCBA president said that peace in the region could be brought about only through the rule of law. Justice was possible only due to judges and lawyers of any country, he added. He said that the culture of Pakistan and India was the same while the living standard of the people also bore striking resemblance. Azad said no citizen in the two countries wanted war because it did not help anyone. He further said both the governments should make the visa process easy for their masses.