No extension for military courts as term expires

Interior minister says ATCs will handle terrorism cases


Our Correspondent January 06, 2017
The verdict was announced by ATC Judge Khalid Arshad. CREATIVE: AAMIR KHAN

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Friday said the government has no plan to extend the term of military courts, just hours before it expired.

“Terrorism cases will be referred to anti-terrorism courts. We have no plan to give military courts any extension,” he was quoted as saying by private news channels. However, no official statement in this respect was released till late Friday night.

Siraj opposes extension in military courts tenure

Military courts were set up on January 7, 2015 – almost three weeks after barbaric attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar – to try hardcore terrorists for an initial two-year term. At that time, the civilian government had promised to revamp the judicial system and inculcate new clauses in existing laws to protect judges, witnesses and prosecutors.

There are reports that the government is currently working on a new draft law in this regard, but no details have been shared yet. “Interior ministry is dealing with this issue directly. We do not have any more details” Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Human Rights Barrister Zafarullah Khan told The Express Tribune.

The courts, during their two-year tenure, sentenced 161 militants to death and handed another 116 jail terms. Twelve convicts were subsequently executed. A total of 275 cases were referred to the courts.

‘Parallel system’: JI against extension in military courts’ term

Well-known cases in which sentences were handed down included the APS massacre, Safoora bus attack, killing of Sabeen Mehmood, attack on journalist Raza Rumi, Bannu jailbreak, Rawalpindi Parade Lane mosque bombing, killing of foreign tourists at Nanga Parbat base camp, attack on a bus carrying Shia pilgrims in Mastung, shooting down of an army helicopter in Orakzai Agency, attack on a PIA aircraft in Peshawar, Marriott Hotel bombing, Karachi airport attack, sectarian murders and attacks on law enforcement agencies’ personnel and offices, polio vaccination teams and educational institutions.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 7th, 2017.

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