LAHORE: Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique has said that special trial courts headed by military officers, likely to be set up as part of efforts aimed at rooting out terrorism from the country, will exclusively deal with terror-related cases and ‘will not be used to victimise political opponents’.
“Summary trial courts to be set up now and the ones formed by military dictators in the past have no comparison and are poles apart,” the minister said while talking to reporters after inaugurating the refurbished bogies of Hazara Express here on Thursday.
“Earlier summary trials were imposed by military regimes. But now such courts will be formed by political leadership of the country with a consensus (among parliamentary parties) to enable the government to take decisive action against terrorism and extremism of all kinds,” he said.
In an extraordinary situation, he said, the Constitution allowed setting up of such courts for a certain period. “We are at war with terrorists. In such an extraordinary situation, military courts were set up even in the US,” Mr Rafique said.
He termed Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain’s call to army to assume power “deplorable” and said that it was unfortunate that “a democratic party is insisting on a coup in a country that has already lost so much to military regimes”.
TRAIN FARE: The minister said that the Railways did not revise passenger fares after increases in oil prices but it would cut fares if oil prices declined further. “We have completed homework for this.”
He said that seven passenger trains had been causing Rs1.75 billion loss every year and added that stops of passenger trains allowed on political basis would be gradually done away with to minimise the travel time. Only stops having commercial viability and situated far away from roads will be continued.
The Railway is focusing on transportation of freight and cargo by offering incentives to the private sector, he said.
In reply to a question, he said that the Railways had handed over a piece of land to the Sindh government for the Karachi Circular Railway project, which could be executed either by the Karachi administration or the provincial government.
Published in Dawn, December 26th, 2014