Pakistan’s legal system has got a few kinks that need ironing out, to say the least. The police and the judiciary aren’t exactly on the same page at the best of times, but once in a while a case comes along that’s so utterly ridiculous that it draws the attention of the rest of the world. On February 1st, a group of locals from the working class neighbourhood of Ahata Thanedaran were arrested after allegedly throwing rocks at gas company officials. But where the case really gets screwy is that, among those arrested and charged, was Muhammad “Musa” Khan. Which seems normal enough, until you learn that Musa is only nine months old. Police subsequently charged Musa – who, again, is only NINE MONTHS OLD – with attempted murder, accusing him – HIM BEING A NINE MONTH OLD CHILD – with raiding a state-run gas company along with plotting to murder police.
The charge severely violates Pakistan’s minimum age of criminal responsibility, which was amended last year to raise the threshold from seven to twelve; though it should be noted that provision does exist for this to be ignored in cases of terrorism. But at nine months old I still feel that deliberate, conscious plotting of political or religious violence against the state is a bit beyond Musa’s still-developing motor skills.
Musa’s grandfather has since sent the, and I really can’t stress this enough, nine month old child who has been charged by the state with attempted murder, to Faisalabad, Pakistan’s third largest city, located 2 hours west of Lahore, for protection. The Judge presiding over the case ordered the Police inspector who laid the charges be stood down effective immediately. And, in about as lenient a decision as the legal system that binds him could allow, bailed the baby to appear at a later date. How kind.
Musa’s parents, rightfully disillusioned by the legal system, are yet to decide with the child will appear at any subsequent hearing.
Photo: Aamir Qureshi via Getty Images.