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JIT formed to Probe Propaganda against Judges: A Critical Evaluation

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The recent formation of a six-member JIT to investigate the malicious online campaign against Supreme Court judges raises a multitude of questions. While the government’s swift action appears promising, a closer examination reveals both potential strengths and pitfalls that could determine the investigation’s ultimate effectiveness and impact.
The swift formation of the JIT within days of the campaign’s emergence demonstrates a proactive stance in safeguarding judicial integrity and deterring online intimidation. This sends a strong message of zero tolerance for such attacks. By combining the investigative prowess of the FIA, Intelligence Bureau, Inter-Services Intelligence, and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, the JIT possesses a diverse skillset encompassing cybercrime analysis, intelligence gathering, and telecommunications data access. This comprehensive approach increases the chances of uncovering the culprit(s) and their motives.

The JIT’s terms of reference are clearly defined, outlining a roadmap for the investigation. This includes identifying the campaign’s origins and perpetrators, bringing them to justice, and recommending preventative measures to avoid future occurrences. This clarity ensures accountability and helps maintain public trust in the process. The timing of the JIT formation coincides with the Supreme Court’s recent decision regarding the PTI’s election symbol, raising concerns about potential political influence on the investigation. Statements by lawyers linking the campaign to the PTI further amplify these concerns. Ensuring impartiality and avoiding political motivations will be crucial for the JIT’s credibility.

The 15-day deadline for a preliminary report poses a significant challenge. Conducting a thorough investigation within such a tight timeframe might lead to rushed conclusions, incomplete evidence gathering, and, ultimately, an unsatisfactory outcome. Extending the deadline or prioritizing key tasks might be necessary to ensure a comprehensive investigation. Anonymity tools and complex online networks can make it difficult to trace online content back to specific individuals. The JIT’s success hinges on its ability to overcome these technological and legal hurdles by employing advanced tracking techniques and collaborating with social media platforms.

While the JIT focuses on the immediate issue, addressing the underlying causes of such anti-judiciary campaigns is equally important. Issues like political polarization, misinformation, and a lack of respect for judicial independence need to be tackled at the root to prevent future occurrences. Promoting media literacy, fostering open dialogue, and strengthening judicial institutions are crucial steps in this direction.

The formation of the JIT presents both an opportunity and a challenge. While the government’s rapid response and the JIT’s diverse expertise are promising, navigating potential political biases, ensuring sufficient time for investigation, and addressing the root causes of anti-judiciary campaigns are crucial for its success. Ultimately, the JIT’s ability to deliver a fair, thorough, and effective investigation will determine its true impact on safeguarding judicial integrity and upholding the rule of law in Pakistan.

However, apart from the TORs of the JIT, it is critical that freedom of expression and post judgement criticism be kept into mind. The public opinions and freedoms should remain the primary principle in Pakistan for a functional society and democracy.

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