PESHAWAR: A division bench of Peshawar High Court upheld the death sentences handed by the military court to two terrorists and dismissed their appeals to reverse the verdict on Wednesday.
The bench comprising PHC Chief Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel and Justice Irshad Qureshi heard the appeals filed by the family members of two convicted terrorists, Haider Ali and Qari Zahir Gul. Ali was reportedly a juvenile when arrested. In-camera proceedings were conducted in the case.
A matter of age
According to the petition, filed by Malik Ajmad Khan, the attorney representing the plaintiff Bacha Laiq, Ali was a tenth grader at Malakand Public School Sersenai village at the time of his arrest. “He was handed over to the Pakistan Army on September 21, 2009 by a jirga of elders. The jirga was assured Ali would be sent back home after he was produced before the court. But Ali did not return,” said Ajmad Khan.
“When Ali’s parents took up the issue on various forums about their missing son, including the Supreme Court, they were informed he had been awarded the death penalty by a military court,” said the petition.
Ajmad Khan said his clients were not provided a copy of the military court’s decision despite several requests. He had said therefore the death sentence should be declared null and void.
Ajmad Khan was also representing Anwar Bibi, the mother of Qari Zahir Gul and a resident of Bajaur Agency. It was stated in that petition that Gul’s family had shifted to Jalozai Camp and Gul had started leading prayers at a mosque there.
“In 2011, army personnel arrested Gul. A habeas corpus writ was filed at PHC, however, it was rejected in 2012 as the respondents said Gul was blacklisted. Gul was then detained at an internment centre in Bajaur Agency,” said the lawyer.
Ajmad Khan said Gul’s family was not allowed to meet him. His family members then filed another petition at PHC in 2014. “While waiting for that petition to be heard, the family learned a death sentence had already been awarded in the meantime to Gul,” added Ajmad Khan.
Ajmad Khan claimed Article 10-A of the 18th Amendment guarantees basic rights of the citizens. “Every citizen has the right to defend himself, which would only be possible if a fair trial is conducted,” he said.
“The punishment given to Gul was in violation of the said law. Besides, Gul was arrested in 2011 while the amendment that established military courts was affirmed in 2015 by the apex court. Therefore, the military cannot pass a judgment on his case,” he had said. However, it was said the bench dismissed both appeals after going through the details of both the said cases and upheld the military court’s decision.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2015.