The interior ministry has sent 50-plus cases of hardcore terrorists for prosecution in nine military courts set up across the country under the National Action Plan against terrorism, the government’s security czar revealed on Tuesday.
“We have a transparent system to determine which cases would be pleaded in military courts,” Chaidhry Nisar Ali Khan, the federal interior minister, told a news conference in the federal capital. “The system directly links with the apex committees headed by chief ministers of all four provinces who take final decisions on the cases of ‘jet-black’ terrorists.”
Saulat Mirza case
Nisar said the interior ministry has, through the prime minister’s office, sent a summary to the president seeking a 90-day reprieve for condemned target killer Saulat Mirza. An anti-terrorism court in Karachi has set April 1 as the new date to hang the convict, whose latest video confession has provided grist for the rumour mill.
Saulat was scheduled to be hanged in Balochistan’s Machh jail on March 19, but his execution was stayed at the eleventh hour after he offered to share important information with the authorities. “We took this decision on the recommendation of the law-enforcing agencies after he made the startling revelations.”
Asked about his meeting with the British high commissioner in Islamabad, Nisar said that he had handed Philip Barton documents related to MQM chief Altaf Hussain’s threatening speeches against the law-enforcing agencies. “We will decide later whether we should hand over another dossier regarding the MQM chief to the UK government or not.”
The interior minister said the issue of Karachi violence was everyone’s concern. “The Karachi operation was started after taking consent from all political parties,” he said. “We should trust our law-enforcing agencies and back them to cleanse the metropolis.”
Shafqat Hussain case
The interior minister said the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) would probe the case of death-row prisoner Shafqat Hussain and determine the facts, particularly the convict’s age.
He confirmed the president, on the interior ministry’s request, had stayed Shafqat’s execution, which was initially postponed for 72 hours on March 19. The reprieve came hours before his hanging after a heartrending appeal from his family which claimed that Shafqat was a juvenile when condemned to death in 2004 by an ATC for killing a seven-year-old boy.
“It is not a political issue; it is a matter of one precious life,” Nisar said. “The government also understands the feelings of the family of the seven-year-old whose parents’ lives also are in danger in Karachi.”
Nisar also urged Shafqat’s counsel to bring more evidence in support of his claim that his client was underage when convicted.
New ECL policy
Next week, Nisar said, the interior ministry will announce a new mechanism making it difficult to put any names on the Exit Control List without court’s consent. There are more than 8,500 names on the list, which prevents suspects from leaving the country from airports. “Not a single person has been placed on or removed from the ECL on my recommendation,” he claimed.
TTP chief dead?
Putting all rumours of the death of elusive Taliban chief to rest, the interior minister said the government had not received any confirmation of Mullah Fazalullah’s killing in an airstrike in Tirah Valley of Khyber Agency.
He also revealed that nine Pakistani prisoners in Thailand were transferred to Pakistan without the interior ministry’s consent. “Explanation has been sought from the FIA and interior ministry officials,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 25th, 2015.
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