ISLAMABAD: Provincial authorities have identified cases of more than 1,350 terrorists, likely to be sent to the military courts by the end of this month, the officials tracking progress on the National Action Plan (NAP) against terrorism said on Sunday.
A senior official at the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (Nacta) said home departments, after vetting suspected terrorists, have started sending their cases to the interior ministry – the final authority to decide whether a case will be sent to the military courts or the courts established under the Protection of Pakistan Act (PPA).
“The current week is a decisive one as we, after taking Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s consent, will start sending cases to the military courts,” the official said.
Punjab has identified more than 450 cases of terrorists, according to provincial Home Minister Col (retd) Shuja Khanzada. All the cases which may fall under the first category will be referred to the military courts soon, he added.
“We are on the path of swift execution of the NAP – 147 new cases have been filed against ‘jet-black terrorists’. They all were active members of banned outfits,” he told The Express Tribune.
The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) home department has identified 423 cases to be sent to the interior ministry by February 15, a senior official said. Of these, 91 cases involve ‘jet black terrorists’, he added.
Balochistan Home Secretary Akbar Khan Durrani told The Express Tribune that the provincial home department has identified 53 cases of ‘jet-black terrorists’ to be sent to the military courts through the interior ministry.
He said new legislation – on arm licences, hate material and protection of civilians – is also on the cards in the provincial assembly. The security forces, he said, have arrested over 1,400 suspects in more than 200 raids last month. Another top official at the Balochistan home department added that 135 cases of terrorists have been identified so far.
Sindh has identified more than 341 cases of militants, of which 194 are likely to be sent to the military courts through the interior ministry, a senior official of the provincial home department said.
The army has already established nine military courts, which also began operating under the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Branch of the Pakistan Army, he added. “The army has established its Lawfare Directorate and appointed JAG’s a new director general, Major General Muhammad Irshad, a necessary step towards execution of the NAP.”
Last month, the army had announced establishment of three military courts each in K-P and Punjab, two in Sindh and one in Balochistan.
Additionally, the JAG has started taking up cases of around 3,000 suspected ‘jet-black terrorists’ arrested during the military operations in Swat and South and North Waziristan agencies, a senior government functionary told The Express Tribune.
Colonel (retd) Inam-ur-Rahim, who has served in the JAG Directorate, said that a military court is usually presided over by a colonel or a major while an appellate court is usually headed by a brigadier or a major general.
“If a military court awards death sentence to an accused, then his/her case is sent to the chief of the army staff for confirmation,” he explained. “Under Clause 24 of the Army Act, 1952, any accused (armed person and civilian) enjoys the right of defence as Article 10 of the Constitution gives this right to every citizen.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 2rd, 2015.