In the recent debate over the creation of military courts, there was strong dissent against ceding powers to the military. Members of the judiciary and the legal profession evoked tenants of legal jurisprudence, while politicians dredged up theories of democracy. Yet it is the abject failure of these professions that led to the need existing in the first place; as clearly encapsulated by the ongoing farce over Mumtaz Qadari’s case appeal.

The office of the state prosecutor is an exalted department, the upper echelons of which often join politics in most states. The status comes from the solemn responsibility on the shoulders of its ranks coupled with the fact that sometimes, a prosecutor’s job may be fraught with peril. Prosecutors are aware of this, and are paid accordingly. Yet, Pakistan’s state prosecutors have shown little resolve in doing their duty. Despite the resumption of the appeal hearing by Islamabad High Court, the prosecutors are employing brazen delaying tactics ill-befitting a child. The government’s standing counsel, Jahangir Khan Jadoon, said that he had not yet received instructions from the federal government to argue the case and requested the court to issue notices in this regard. Shamelessly shifting the blame on the federal government, when it is the job of the state prosecution to independently argue all pending cases –this one has been pending for 3 years. After juggling the case around and issuing contradictory statements about who it had been assigned to, Islamabad’s Advocate General (AG) Mian Abdur Rauf, asked for two weeks to prepare his arguments for perhaps the most open-shut case the prosecution has to deal with. The accused freely gave a goading confession, was apprehended at the scene with numerous witnesses, his ideological motivation is clear, and his subsequent actions while incarcerated further confirm it. A layman using only public record could convict Qadri, whose appeal is based on the flimsy semantic argument that since his actions did not inspire ‘terror’, and in fact it made people happy, it is not “terrorism” and outside the ATCs jurisdiction.

It is time to stop stalling and deal with the case head-on. If the rest of the country is bearing risk on a daily basis in the war against terrorism, a state prosecution which shirks its duty is not worthy of the office.