Hameed calls for changes to Pakistan's Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997

In an editorial for The Friday Times, Zulfiqar Hameed wrote that due to the changes in terrorism after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, updates must be made to Pakistan's Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997.

A federal statute enacted in August 1997 to deal with ethnic and sectarian terrorism, the act does not protect against the current state of terrorism, according to Hameed. He suggested five key categories in which the act is inadequate and should be changed legislatively.

Hameed wrote that the act must define new offenses such as in the case of suicide attacks, conspiracy, or planning for suicide attacks and armed insurgency. In addition, the act does not include federal offenses, a strict liability offense when a suspect possesses a minimum quantity of explosives, a category of offenses related to attacking security and law enforcement facilities, or when using chemical, biological or other unconventional weapons, The Friday Times reports.

Hameed also called for an enhancement of penalties, including those for the assistance, aid and abatement of terrorism, an increase in the powers of investigative agencies and law enforcement to counteract terrorism, and an improvement of procedural issues, including safeguards to ensure the law isn't misused.

In addition, Hameed wrote that traditional criminal law places most of the importance on the perpetrators at the scene of the crime. In terrorism and suicide bombing, however, the perpetrators would not necessarily be at the scene during an incident and current laws might not target the person who planned the terrorist event.