ISLAMABAD: The army’s top leadership on Tuesday praised the performance of military courts in prosecuting terrorism cases and their role in complementing the fight against militants.
“[The] forum also appreciated performance of military courts during the prescribed duration which resulted in reduction of terrorism,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement on the corps commanders meeting at the General Headquarters — the first one to be chaired by Gen Qamar Bajwa since assuming the command of the army at the end of November.
The corps commanders’ meetings are a monthly feature at the General Headquarters, where the army’s top brass discusses the security environment and operational matters. Last month’s meeting could not be held because of the large-scale reshuffle in the army following the change in command.
Army chief says counterterrorism operations to continue
The army’s laudatory comments about the military courts came at a time when the political leadership was busy in discussing a possible extension in the tenure of the tribunals through a constitutional amendment.
The government had on Monday said it had begun consultations for introducing a constitution amendment for reviving the military courts for another limited term after they ceased to exist last weekend upon conclusion of their two-year term under the 21st Constitution Amendment.
During their two-year term, the military courts tried 274 terrorism cases, sentencing 161 people to death and awarding varying jail terms to another 116.
Human rights activists fear that due process was not followed during the trials of terrorism suspects by the military courts. The allegation was rejected by the army in one of the earlier statements announcing the completion of the constitutionally mandated period.
“Army will continue to render full support to all state institutions working for national security,” Gen Bajwa was quoted by ISPR as having told his commanders.
The army chief further directed the continuation of counterterrorism operations and stabilisation of the areas already cleared of militants.
“[The] forum expressed satisfaction on the progress of Operation Zarb-i-Azb and its positive effects on internal security. The forum reiterated Pakistan Army’s resolve to be prepared to respond to all types of threats,” the ISPR added.
Published in Dawn January 11th, 2017